GRMC’s Cancer Navigation program was recently flagged as a top innovative program for rural health in the United States through Rural Health Models & Innovations, a national collection of successful rural health programs and interventions created by the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), a program of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

The GRMC Cancer Navigation Program was initially funded through a $600,000, three-year federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Nurse navigators at GRMC’s cancer center help patients and their caretakers develop a better understanding of the impacts of cancer treatment in addition to understanding their insurance options and cancer-related nutritional needs.  They also connect patients with an array of social and community support services to address well-being, nutritional needs, and travel-associated financial support.

“Building GRMC’s Cancer Navigation Program from the ground up has been one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences of my nursing career,” said Gina Artice, Certified General Oncology Nurse Navigator.  “Whether we are advocating on a patient’s behalf to insurers, facilitating our local cancer support group or connecting patients to financial support, it’s very fulfilling and challenging work.  It’s certainly gratifying to know that we are being recognized as a benchmark for other communities as they work to expand cancer services and provide support for individuals undergoing cancer treatment.”

Since its inception, the GRMC Cancer Navigation program has aided 450 patients and families with services.  The success of the program also resulted in spinning off several cancer-centric programs at GRMC including palliative care services, a survivorship program, and a transportation system for patients undergoing radiation treatments.   GRMC is now translating the success of the cancer-specific navigator program to two additional patient areas, implementing the nurse navigator concept in the Well Patient Program, which is designed to assist patients with multiple chronic conditions, and in the hopsital’s Emergency Department.

The Cancer Navigation Program gained national recognition as a benchmark program for other communities that wish to expand cancer care services. The program demonstrates how nurse navigators can be central to the effort, especially for implementing multidisciplinary collaboration.  Additionally, GRMC’s success was also noted for addressing patient needs associated with complex chronic conditions and healthcare utilization. To read the full project summary, visit https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1052.

RHIhub is a national online information center on rural health issues, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Their website includes over 12,000 resources specific to rural health. Rural Health Models & Innovations features hundreds of successful programs that are serving rural residents across the nation.

Gina Artice of Garrett Regional Medical Center

Caption: Gina Artice, a certified general oncology nurse navigator is responsible for overseeing GRMC’s cancer navigation program.   GRMC’s Cancer Navigation program was recently flagged as a top innovative program for rural health in the United States.