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Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology - GASCO

Post Conference Release

Georgia’s Cancer Patient Navigators Meet to Plan New Organization

More than 100 cancer patient navigators from Georgia attended a statewide conference to learn about progress in the field and discuss the formation of a Georgia Cancer Patient Navigation Association. Patient Navigation in cancer care refers to individualized assistance to patients, families and caregivers to help overcome health care system barriers and facilitate timely access to quality medical and psychosocial care, from pre-diagnosis through all phases of the cancer experience.

Nurses, social workers, cancer survivors and community health advocates who perform cancer patient navigation functions heard from the founder of patient navigation, Dr. Harold Freeman; the director of patient navigation for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Caroline Huffman; and Dr. Sheryl-Gabram-Mendola and Dr. Kimberly Jacob Arriola, the principal investigators on an AVON Foundation grant funding a patient navigation pilot program in the Grady Health System.
The program was sponsored by the Georgia Society for Clinical Oncology (GASCO) and the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC). Together, they conducted a survey of cancer patient navigators in Georgia which demonstrated an overwhelming interest in forming a statewide organization for networking, education and training, advocacy, and sharing of resources. The conference was the first step in the process.

A conference work session gave attendees the opportunity to discuss the organization’s mission, vision, values, goals and objectives. A Steering Committee has been appointed to take that information and determine next steps. Members include:

  • Karen Beard, Director, GASCO
  • Penny Daughterty, RN, MS, OCN, Director, Clinical Research, Southeastern Gynecologic Oncology, Atlanta
  • Monica Dean, Regional Director, Cancer Patient Navigation Services, American Cancer Society
  • Phillip Edge, Executive Director, Cancer Navigators, Rome
  • Rhonda Green, Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, Albany
  • Gail McCray, MA, CHES, Community Health Educator, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta
  • Matthew Mumber, MD, GASCO President and Harbin Clinic Radiation Oncologist, Rome
  • Angie Patterson, Vice President and COO, Georgia Cancer Coalition
  • Tamara Stewart-Mason, MSP, CHES, Project Director, Avon Foundation Outreach Initiative, Winship Cancer Institute at Grady Health System
  • Suzanne West, RN-C, MSN, Nurse Manger, John B. Amos Cancer Center, Columbus Regional Medical Center, Columbus

Attendees at the conference included cancer patient navigators from Metro Atlanta, Augusta, Buford, Cumming, Forsyth, Gainesville, Jonesboro, LaGrange, Lithonia, Macon, Rome, Savannah, Thomasville, Valdosta, and Warner Robbins. Representatives were in attendance from the national office of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program pilot project as St. Joseph’s Candler Health System in Savannah and the Association of Community Cancer Centers pilot site at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus.

Cancer patient navigators throughout Georgia can go to www.gasco.us or www.georgiacancer.org to link to the conference presentations and add their names to the list of individuals interested in staying informed on the progress of forming the Georgia Cancer Patient Navigation Society.

“Patient navigation is a critical adjunct to care of oncology patients and caregivers,” says Dr. Matt Mumber, GASCO President. “We were fortunate to be awarded a $10,000 State Affiliate grant from the American Society of Clinical Oncology to assess the current level of cancer patient navigation resources in Georgia. The survey showed there is a real need for and interest in forming a statewide professional organization for cancer patient navigators in Georgia.

For further information, contact Karen Beard, Director, Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology, at (770) 951-1018, Option 2 or Judy Stanton, Public Relations., Georgia Cancer Coalition, at (404)584-0527.