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Hedrick Foundation Gifted $50K for Oncology Program
December 31, 2014 CT

As 2015 begins, Hedrick Medical Center will provide an oncology nurse navigator program dedicated to easing the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial hardships of living with and beyond cancer. The first year of the program is made possible thanks to a recent, anonymous $50,000 donation to the Hedrick Medical Center (HMC) Foundation.

The program will center around an on-staff oncology nurse navigator whose job it will be to assist cancer patients throughout their entire diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process, as well as the clinical coordination of their care. This lead gift to the oncology nurse navigator program was given to the HMC Foundation by a donor who feels strongly that this program will change lives - not only of the patients but of their families as well. Hedrick Medical Center and the HMC Foundation had been exploring ways to expand the oncology program at the hospital. "After meetings with Saint Luke's Health System and Hedrick oncology leadership members, it was easy to see that this navigator program was the next best step for Chillicothe and the surrounding communities. We believe our patients will greatly benefit from this new program," Matt Wenzel, Hedrick Medical Center CEO, said.

Annie Stedem-Singer, RN, has been hired as the new oncology nurse navigator. She received her nursing degree from North Central Missouri College and Bachelor of Arts from Graceland University. For the past three years, she has worked in the area of orthopedics, as well as oncology and other multidisciplinary specialties. She has completed training in Biotherapy and Chemotherapy. She was selected as the Hedrick Employee of the Year in 2012. The oncology nurse navigator will see the big picture of a cancer patient's care and coordinate all aspects of that care to best serve the patient. When undergoing treatment - and even beyond - cancer patients may see multiple clinicians as they go through a variety of tests, doctor's appointments, surgery, and treatments. But they also require much more beyond their specific medical treatment. A patient's needs are extensive and varied, including potentially having issues with or needing assistance with nutrition, rehabilitative programs, mental health, financial concerns, daily living tasks, spiritual guidance, and many more. These services are often more difficult to access and coordinate. The oncology nurse navigator program will also offer patients a number of no-cost support services that patients may be able to utilize, which are available through the partnerships Hedrick has formed in the community. These services include nutritional advice during and post treatment, a cancer support group, social services assistance, fitness and/or yoga classes, massage therapy, and educational programs.

"The goal of our oncology nurse navigator program is simple: we want to help save lives from cancer, ensure timely delivery of services, and eliminate barriers to care," Wenzel explained. "With this very generous lead donation, the new oncology nurse navigator program will be able to get started in 2015, months ahead of our original plans."

Hedrick Medical Center Oncology department provides services such as port maintenance, chemotherapy infusion, blood and iron product replacement and injections for chemotherapy support. With approximately 90 individuals diagnosed with cancer each year in Livingston County, and an additional 300 more in the surrounding five counties, there is a need for this kind of guidance services for cancer survivors and their families. The addition of a holistic approach to cancer care significantly improves patients' outcomes. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled Early Palliative Care for Patients with metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer, patients' median survival times increase from 8.9 months to 11.6 months when a holistic approach is employed. Additionally, with this approach, there is a sharp decrease in cases of depression (38 percent to 16 percent) and anxiety (30 percent to 25 percent) seen at 12 weeks of treatment.

The Hedrick Medical Center Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign to secure additional funding for the program and ensure that the services are in place for years to come. The Oncology Nurse Navigator program will be provided solely through private donations. "We know that cancer touches so many lives every year," said Lindy Chapman, Foundation Development Officer. "Our hope is that our community will support this program as we move forward."

"This is a kind of program and service that is typically found in larger urban areas - not in a smaller community such as Chillicothe," Wenzel said. "Cancer survivors often do not know all of the services and resources available to them for complete care, and we're proud that with this program we'll be able to help the survivors in our community get through what is often a confusing and overwhelming experience."

Questions about the program itself or about how to make a donation toward the oncology nurse navigator program can be directed to Lindy Chapman at 660-214-8107.

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