If you have ever had the privilege of hearing Jennifer Harvey sing with her Femme-Folk Pop-Rock band, The Gurley Girls, you will know instantly that this busy lady’s got skills. She is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend and cake pop baker in addition to her role as the Patient Navigator for the Lung Cancer Screening and Care program at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). Her title is a mouthful and so is her job!
YRMC started the Lung Cancer Screening and Care program in response to a national push to provide annual low dose CT scanning as a screening method for detecting lung cancer early. This program started as a result of a large-scale study known as the National Lung Screening Trial, which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and conducted by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This study showed that “for the first time, we have a modality that’s proven by research to catch lung cancer early and it is effective and can save lives,” explained Jennifer. Early detection of lung cancer can increase the five-year survival rate.
Jennifer added, “YRMC started this program to support our community because we have a high volume of smokers and we know that when people wait until they have symptoms of lung cancer, they are not likely to survive their diagnosis.”
Jennifer’s role in the process is to help identify high risk groups and to inform practitioners as well as people in the community that this service is available; to act as a liaison between providers and specialists such as pulmonologists, radiologists, oncologists and surgeons; to connect patients to the screening program and treatments they may need after the screening; and to create educational materials and classes to help patients become healthier. “So, I act as a hub in this busy wheel,” said Jennifer.
The day before a patient arrives for the first appointment, Jennifer calls them and explains how “the program is not a one and done type of thing. You come back annually for screening.” When they initially arrive at the clinic, Jennifer goes through a patient information folder she creates and develops a personal relationship with the patients. She wants them “to feel fully supported, to put a face with a name, and to really help them through the process.”
There are some additional benefits of entering the program such as “smokers who enter the program often decide to quit smoking after realizing what smoking does to them,” Jennifer states.
Another benefit of this program is that incidental findings may also be detected because of the screening. If someone has coronary artery disease, the calcifications can be spotted through CT screening and the patient can be referred to a cardiologist so that a heart attack may be prevented. A thyroid nodule may be discovered or another type of medical concern might also be noticed. “They might get help for something they didn’t even know they had,” explains Jennifer.
If you think that lung cancer screening is something you should consider, please speak to your primary care physician or contact Jennifer at (928) 771-5454.