Wallace said, “We see some really unique cases here at the medical center. Each member of the treatment team brings a different perspective and skill set to the conversation.” The team stays up to date with the most recent research and they use this to guide the treatment of their patients.
Many patients, like Karisa, need chemotherapy or radiation in addition to surgery. So, physicians at the Advanced Orthopaedic Center and the Cancer Institute, two of the medical center’s Centers of Excellence, worked together to make an individualized treatment plan for Karisa.
“I was thrilled with the level of care I got with Dr. Wallace, my oncologist, and everyone at the medical center,” Karisa said.
Wallace worked with Neil Faulkner, MD, a Cancer Institute medical oncologist. Together, they figured out the timing for her chemotherapy, which shrunk her tumor dramatically. They followed the chemotherapy with surgery. “They were always able to let me know what was going on and tell me what to expect from treatment,” said Karisa.
Nurse navigators like the medical center’s Susan Noe guide cancer patients through their journey, from diagnosis to treatment.
Susan Noe (left) has a nurse’s knowledge, a servant’s heart, and cancer patients’ well-being at top of mind. She is a Cancer Institute nurse navigator who acts as the liaison for patients referred from the Advanced Orthopaedic Center at The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Noe guides patients through diagnosis and treatment of cancer. “We're an advocate for the patient,” Noe said.
Navigators spring into action as soon as a patient calls or a referral is received from another health care provider. They collect a patient’s medical records from their primary care physician and other specialists. They also identify any additional testing or imaging needed with the specialist and prepare the case to be reviewed by the multidisciplinary team. Most importantly they work to schedule the patient to be seen by their specialist within 10 days.
“Cancer patients don’t have a month to wait to straighten out a paperwork glitch,” Noe said. A navigator steers patients through the entire course of treatment, doing everything from making sure they have rides to appointments, to telling them what to expect from tests and treatments.
Patients appreciate a human touch in the bureaucracy of medical care. “Patients tells us ‘You’ve helped calm me. I didn’t know what was going on, and you helped me understand,’” Noe said. “Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating emotionally and financially, so I would want somebody there to go the extra mile for me, too. I count it an honor to get to do what I do.”