Experienced navigators improve care, access for cancer patients

Published 7:27 pm Thursday, October 30, 2014

From Vidant Health


GREENVILLE — Vidant Health implemented a new cancer care-navigation model to help provide high quality cancer care locally and regionally. Once a patient is diagnosed with cancer, Vidant Health Cancer Care Navigators educate patients and families about their treatment plans, find care close to home if available, improve access to local and national resources, and eliminate potential barriers to care.

“Cancer care navigators work with patients throughout eastern North Carolina who are facing the overwhelming diagnosis of cancer,” said Judy Koutlas, oncology navigation program coordinator. “Our navigators ensure access to multidisciplinary care and potential clinical trials while serving as an advocate and immediate point of contact for the patient and family.”

The comprehensive team includes nurses and social workers throughout the region who have expertise in the care of cancer patients. A navigation coordinator at Vidant Medical Center works with navigators throughout our region who assist patients in receiving cancer care that is timely, cost-effective, specialized and individualized.

According to a study published in the fall of 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients with a nurse navigator rated their care higher and reported fewer problems than patients without one. Educating patients helps them play an integral role in screening, early detection and prevention of the top cancers.

“Navigators help coordinate care between the various disciplines – radiation oncology, surgical oncology, medical oncology, pathology, radiology and other specialists – and ensure that communication is maintained,” said Dr. Prashanti

Atluri, assistant professor of Hematology and Oncology, ECU Brody School of Medicine. “This of course can be difficult and our navigators are like lifelines for our patients.”

Vidant’s cancer navigators help patients and their families learn to live and cope with cancer.  For more educational information about cancer treatment or to find out how to access the cancer navigation team, visit

www.VidantHealth.com/Navigator or call 800-472-8500.