“It’s very frightening,” Whitener said. “You don’t know what you’re going to do, where you’re supposed to go, what all it entails in getting through this. It’s confusing, more than anything.”
That confusion was alleviated once James and his wife, Joyce, met John D. French, III, a patient navigator with the Patient Care Connect Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. French’s job is to walk patients like James through the process of cancer treatment, from diagnosis through Survivorship and beyond.
What makes Patient Care Connect so special? It is the first system of its kind. Physicians, nurses and lay navigators developed the program after noticing an influx in cancer patient’s visits to the emergency room. Lay navigators are assigned to newly diagnosed cancer patients to solve issues before they lead to an emergency visit. They administer a Distress Screen to determine if the patient is facing barriers to receiving the best possible care. If barriers are identified, navigators work with a predetermined list of resources to resolve each barrier. Medical Concierge Navigator software is an essential tool in the tracking process.
French is just one of the many navigators in the UAB program helping patients just like Whitener.
Whitener is currently in remission and his wife says they have found a “lifelong friend in French.”
“We will always, always keep in touch with John, and be so grateful for the time he’s spent helping us as a family.”