This article originally appeared in invision, a magazine
published for staff at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
"You have cancer" are
three words no one wants to hear. Even for the strongest individuals,
understanding the life-altering changes this diagnosis brings is difficult.
Navigating numerous appointments, tests and treatments adds to the stress of
having the disease.
To help ease this transition, the UMass Memorial Cancer Center of Excellence
introduced the Patient Navigator Program in the Multidisciplinary Lung Clinic.
With the goal of improving the patient experience, clinical coordinator Debra
Maddox, RN, OCN, serves as a central contact person for lung cancer patients
with questions about education, medical or surgical issues, and other
"Newly diagnosed patients initially need six to eight procedures done
immediately as part of their diagnostic workup to determine the best treatment
options," she explained. "To make it easier for the patient, all of the
disciplines involved with care come to the patient in one appointment rather
than having three or four visits."
Ms. Maddox is responsible for scheduling appointments and making sure
patients know where to go and for what. In addition, she accompanies patients to
their clinic visits, sits with patients during chemotherapy when she can, and
sometimes accompanies them to surgery.
Auburn resident and lung cancer patient Beverly Havens counts on Ms. Maddox.
"She makes me feel like I'm her only patient, not a number. She is there to calm
me down and prepares me for what is going to happen. Deb is a gem and keeps my
"We are lucky to have a great team in the clinic," said Ms. Maddox. "The
patient navigator system builds trust among providers, patients and their
families, and improves their overall experience with UMass Memorial."