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Cancer Navigator Services for Patients and Families

March 31, 2009
Introducing New Level of Cancer Care Services. The American Cancer Society and St. Vincent Healthcare are teaming up to announce a first-of-its kind partnership to assist men, women and children in Eastern Montana and Northern Wyoming who have been diagnosed with the cancer. The American Cancer Society has chosen St. Vincent as its first Montana site to place an ACS Cancer Patient Navigator.

Sarah Rachac, former Quality of Life Manager for the American Cancer Society, is the new American Cancer Society Cancer Navigator at St. Vincent. As the ACS Patient Navigator, Rachac is joining St. Vincent Healthcare’s Breast Health Navigator, Stephanie Streed, RNC bringing another level of cancer navigation and support to patients and their families.

“A diagnosis of cancer is something no one is ever prepared to hear,” says Rachac. “And unless you’ve gone through it with someone else, a close friend or family member, you really don’t know the first questions to ask. Each Patient Navigator not only has the training to know what questions are most important, but also knows where to find the answers,” says Rachac.

Streed, the first Cancer Navigator in the Billings community, has provided education and support to women, facilitating smooth navigation throughout all areas of breast health and breast health cancer care since 2004. She serves to meet physical, psychological and social needs for breast cancer patients.

With Rachac’s background in social work and her vast knowledge of ACS resources across the country, she is in tune with the patients and family’s needs and services in place for all types of cancer both here in Billings and in the surrounding rural areas As she helps patients through the process she is able to directly connect cancer patients and their families to services and financial support options through the American Cancer Society and other resources Rachac is also linked to the expertise of the other ACS Patient Navigators across the country. The ACS Patient Navigator program was developed nationally in 2004, and presently has 33 navigators in the 12-state Great West Division of the American Cancer Society. The ACS Patient Navigator at St. Vincent Healthcare is the first in Montana.

Rachac has access to information regarding virtually all cancers, the available surgical and treatment options, and what patients can expect during the recovery process.

Some of the other assistance Rachac is able to provide includes:

  • Referring patients to support groups, classes and/or community resources;
  • Helping patients find resources for financial assistance, lodging, medication needs, education, home-health care, transportation and other concerns; and
  • Providing information and materials on coping with the disease.

“With everything the program has to offer the cancer patient when they walk through the door, the most valuable is the Patient Navigator’s willingness to listen to their questions, concerns, even, fears,” says Rachac. “This is something they have never experienced and they have every right to be apprehensive. The Patient Navigator program is here to help them cope with the stress that comes with a diagnosis.”

To schedule an appointment at the American Cancer Society/St. Vincent Healthcare Patient Navigator office, or for more information about the program, contact Sarah Rachac at 237-3084 or email her at sarah.rachac@svh-mt.org.

About St. Vincent Healthcare

St. Vincent Healthcare is a comprehensive system of award-winning healthcare services located in Billings, Montana. St. Vincent is a regional destination hospital which serves a four-state area and more than 900,000 people each year. A comprehensive range of services include a Level II trauma Center, cardiothoracic and vascular medicine, comprehensive cancer services, family-centered maternal and child health – a Level III B NICU & Pediatric Intensive Care Unit – neurosurgery, orthopedics and the region’s most advanced diagnostic services. St. Vincent Healthcare is part of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System. St. Vincent Healthcare’s quality, mission-driven, charitable healthcare has been in existence for more than 110 years. To learn more about St. Vincent Healthcare, visit www.svh-mt.org.