05:20am Thursday 23 January 2020

Lung Cancer Navigation Program “coaches” patients through complicated cancer therapy

A diagnosis of lung cancer can come as a hard blow. The disease has one of the highest mortality rates of all cancers and the sheer complexity of therapy – often involving radiation, chemotherapy and surgery – can leave patients feeling confused and isolated. To help these patients navigate through the complicated treatment process and medical appointments, the MUHC has unveiled its new Lung Cancer Navigation Program (LCNP).

The LCNP offers each patient the services of a nurse pivot, a highly-trained professional who “coaches” individuals, and their family, through the health care system. The program is expected to reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, while alleviating the anxiety experienced by patients and their caregivers. Other anticipated benefits include easier access to outpatient care, fewer readmissions and shorter hospital stays.

“Our goal was to design a generic program that would facilitate patient access to hospital services,” says Dr. David Mulder, Director of Thoracic Surgery at the MUHC. “While this type of program would benefit many categories of patients, we decided to start with lung cancer patients because they require the most complicated treatment.” Lung cancer patients typically need to meet with specialists from as many as five disciplines in the course of therapy. On top of this, they are often elderly, so they have difficulty with transportation and other issues.

When they are enrolled in the LCNP, patients are given a phone number that connects them directly to one of the program’s three pivot nurses. “These specially trained healthcare workers guide patients through their therapy,” explains Andréanne Saucier, MUHC Associate Director of Nursing, Cancer Mission and Respiratory Services. “Each patient is carefully monitored daily through the use of a specific data base created to avoid gaps during the different steps of investigation and treatment.” So far, over 200 patients have been enrolled in the program. The MUHC’s Lung Cancer Tumour Board sees approximately 450 patients each year.

“I currently manage about 70 patients, all with advanced lung cancer,” says Joannie Bernier, a nurse pivot with the LCNP. “We take care of symptoms management, and give these patients whatever support they need to deal with the system. For example, one of my patients became very ill and had to come to the ER. Before he came in, I alerted the triage nurse in ER, to help minimize his wait there. I also spoke to people in radiation oncology and palliative care, so they could reserve a bed for him. Our goal is to make things as easy as possible for patients and their families, and give them the help they need during this difficult time.”

The LCNP also has a research component. ”We are measuring the impact of the introduction of the program on access to services, particularly, whether the program reduces delays in the completion of investigation and the initiation of appropriate treatments,” explains Dr. Anne Gonzalez, MUHC Interventional Respirologist and researcher. “A separate study will examine the effect of the LCNP on patient and family member outcomes, such as emotional distress and satisfaction with the healthcare services provided,” adds Julie Dallaire, Clinical Nurse Specialist who has been heavily involved in the development of the LCNP.

“Providing seamless care to our patients is a top priority of the MUHC’s Cancer Care Mission,” adds Andréanne Saucier. “This programme helps us do that, and we’ll be able to do it even better when all of our cancer care services are brought together at the new Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the Glen Campus.”

Leadership support for the LCNP was provided by the Jarislowsky Foundation. The program is also supported by the Newton Foundation, the Montreal General Hospital Foundation, Roy Heenan, Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux and the Direction de la lutte contre le cancer.

About the McGill University Health Centre

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital. Our goal is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca.

About the MUHC Redevelopment Project

Guided by its mission and its role as co-leaders of the McGill integrated university hospital network, the MUHC is carrying out a $2.2-billion Redevelopment Project that will help the Government achieve its vision for academic medicine in Quebec. Excellence in patient care, research, education and technology assessment will be fostered on three state-of-the-art campuses—The Mountain, the Glen and Lachine—and through strong relationships with healthcare partners. Each LEED®-registered campus will be designed to provide patients and their families with “The Best Care for Life” in a healing environment that is anchored in best sustainable development practices, including BOMA BESt guidelines. www.muhc.ca/construction.



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