Health

Nurse 'navigators' hired to improve NWT cancer care


A cancer specialist and two specialized nurses have been employed at Stanton Territorial Hospital, a move the territory's health authority says will improve quality of life for residents going through cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The two new "cancer nurse navigators" are available to support people even from the time there are suspicions they are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, a news release from the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority stated on Friday.

The hospital previously employed one cancer care navigator. The authority said the three new roles represent an expansion in staffing and services for cancer patients.

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Sue Cullen, the health authority's chief executive, said the navigators will be available to all residents of the NWT and will make sure patients get "seamless wraparound services, regardless of their location in the territory."

The two navigators are registered nurses. Their role is to guide a person diagnosed with cancer through the healthcare system, as well as work with their families and healthcare providers. The health authority expects faster access to the services and resources patients need, improved coordination and continuity of care, and more work to ensure patients are educated and feel supported.

"A diagnosis of cancer can be very scary," the news release stated. "Our cancer nurse navigators can alleviate this feeling by providing support to help patients better understand and prepare for appointments, tests, and treatments."

The navigators provide emotional, psychological and spiritual support if needed, as well as linking patients to community resources.

Whether someone has a confirmed diagnosis, is undergoing treatment, dealing with side effects, or is receiving palliative care, the nurse navigators are available to them. The health authority says the service requires no prerequisites or fees.

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Patients can self-refer by calling 1-866-313-7989 or emailing cancer_navigator@gov.nt.ca.

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