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Your Personal Nurse Navigator

General

Tillamook Regional Medical Center has just launched a nurse navigator program. The nurse navigator will help patients “navigate” their cancer treatment. The diagnosis of cancer is shocking and often terrifying, and like any person in shock, it is difficult for patients to absorb detailed information, understand what they’re hearing, advocate for themselves, learn new science regarding cancer, keep track of numerous appointments, navigate the system, and know how to take care of themselves in the process.

Imagine having your own personal nurse to help you through the process, both emotionally and practically, providing support and assistance in the ways that you need it. This is where the nurse navigator comes in. LaLonnie Hurliman, RN has been named Nurse Navigator of TRMC’s nascent program. She will begin with two breast cancer patients this fall as the program gets underway.

LaLonnie will provide personal support to patients from the time that they receive a call back for diagnostic testing after an abnormality is identified in their mammogram. She will walk them through the process from diagnosis through treatment and into aftercare. She’ll help them with information, resources, referrals, appointments and advice. She’ll provide tangible support such as transportation assistance, wigs, and personal care; and intangible whole-person care that recognizes her patients’ spiritual and emotional needs. She will act as the coordinator of all of the providers involved in the patients’ care.

“I start from the side of empathy,” said LaLonnie. Cancer is prevalent in her family. Her mother died of breast cancer 5 years ago, and her father has prostate and bone cancer now. “It is an amazing honor to be asked to pilot this program,” she said. “Everything I have learned and experienced with my parents’ cancers will be put to good use as I help patients navigate their cancer. There are so many details they have to deal with, and I can help with that. I dedicate my work to my mom, and I think she must be smiling right now.”

The nurse navigator program will unfold in stages. Once the pilot project is complete and the program is up and running, the nurse navigator program will be offered to all breast cancer patients. When the nurse navigator program is fully operational, Tillamook Regional Medical Center plans to offer these services to all cancer patients, in keeping with the Adventist Health mission “To share God’s love by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing.”