New 'Patient Navigator' Program

The American Cancer Society today launched its Patient Navigator Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), thanks to support received from AstraZeneca. This is the first site to launch in Upstate New York State as part of a strategic nationwide effort to significantly extend the reach of this innovative program and assist individual cancer patients in negotiating the health care system.

“A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing experience for patients, their families and their caregivers,” said Gretchen Leffler, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. “Our patient navigator is able to provide support every step of the way, from explaining what to expect with chemotherapy, to helping patients find transportation to appointments and even linking them with free temporary housing like at our Buffalo Hope Lodge. Fighting cancer is a difficult, challenging journey; but with the help of trained American Cancer Society patient navigators, people don’t have to go through it alone.”

The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program directly connects cancer patients to a cancer education and support specialist – known as a “patient navigator” – who, through one-on-one relationships, serves as a personal guide to patients and caregivers as they face the psychosocial, emotional and financial challenges that cancer can bring. The service is free and confidential, and places an emphasis on assisting the medically underserved.

AstraZeneca’s support will enable the launch of a full-time American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. According to American Cancer Society estimates more than 9,000 people in Western New York are diagnosed with cancer every year. The gift is part of a $10 million pledge by AstraZeneca to the Society to accelerate development of at least 50 new Patient Navigator Program sites over a five-year period in communities throughout the United States.

"Roswell Park was the first hospital in Western New York to offer its patients a patient navigation program. This collaborative effort will enhance our existing innovative program and help ensure that patients obtain individualized support throughout their treatment and follow-up cancer care,” said Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP, President & CEO, RPCI. “This program proactively reaches patients who are most in need of specialized services and support, providing the critical link to local resources that will improve their outcomes and quality of life."

As no cancer experience is the same, American Cancer Society patient navigators connect patients and caregivers with the most appropriate programs and services to help improve each individual’s access to health care and quality of life. Whether it is connecting patients and caregivers with the information they need to make treatment decisions and better understand their disease, helping them deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer, such as transportation and insurance issues, or connecting them with community resources such as support groups, American Cancer Society patient navigators can provide help throughout the disease continuum – from the time of diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship. Furthermore, navigators are able to increase treatment compliance and follow-up care.

“AstraZeneca is thrilled to be the first company to give nationwide, large-scale support to the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program,” said Lisa Schoenberg, Vice President of Specialty Care, AstraZeneca LP. “This new program site at Roswell Park Cancer Institute is a testament to our commitment to provide cancer patients with the access to the medicines and care they need to live longer, healthier lives. We are proud to support the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program in its mission to improve patient outcomes, not only in Buffalo, NY, but in communities throughout the country.”

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