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Monday, April 18, 2011

Bay Area Cancer Patients and Their Families to Benefit from American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

Program Will Provide Personal Guide to Help Local Cancer Patients Better Navigate Their Cancer Experience Thanks to Support from AstraZeneca

The American Cancer Society today launched its Patient Navigator Program at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH), thanks to support received from AstraZeneca. This is the 36th Patient Navigator Program site, and the second in California as part of a strategic nationwide effort to significantly extend the reach of this innovative program and assist individual cancer patients in negotiating the health care system.

“A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing experience for patients, their families and their caregivers,” said Dr. Israel De Alba, president of the American Cancer Society, California Division, Inc. “Our Patient Navigator Program helps patients focus on getting well by providing support every step of the way, from explaining what to expect during treatment, to making sure patients have transportation to and from appointments. Fighting cancer is a difficult, challenging journey; but with the help of trained American Cancer Society patient navigators, people don’t have to go through it alone.”

The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program directly connects patients to a cancer education and support specialist – known as a “patient navigator” – who, through one-on-one relationships, serves as a personal guide to patients and caregivers as they face the psychosocial, emotional and financial challenges that cancer can bring. The service is free and confidential, and places an emphasis on assisting the medically under-served. SFGH has a rich history of using navigators for breast cancer patients since 1997 making it an ideal site for the expansion of the program to include patients fighting other types of cancer.

AstraZeneca’s support will enable the addition of a full-time American Cancer Society Patient Navigator at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. According to American Cancer Society and the California Cancer Registry estimates, 144,035 people in California will be diagnosed with cancer in 2011. The gift is part of a $10 million pledge by AstraZeneca to the Society to accelerate development of at least 50 new Patient Navigator Program sites over a 5-year period (2007 to 2011) in communities throughout the United States.

“The navigator model enables us to provide personalized advocacy and case management to our cancer patients throughout their entire journey,” said Sue Currin, SFGH CEO. “We have found that patients with navigators develop close bonds that improve their experience from diagnosis to treatment and all the way back to primary care. The patient may have many different providers, but only one navigator. That person becomes essential to their success. Thanks to AstraZeneca and the American Cancer Society, we are able to expand this important service to patients with all types of cancer.”

As the cancer experience is different for each patient, American Cancer Society patient navigators connect patients and caregivers with the most appropriate programs and services to help improve each individual’s access to health care and to help them on their journey to get well. Whether it is getting patients and caregivers the information they need to make treatment decisions and better understand their disease, helping them deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer, such as transportation and insurance issues, or connecting them with community resources such as support groups, American Cancer Society patient navigators can provide help throughout the disease continuum – from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, into survivorship. Furthermore, navigators are able to increase treatment compliance and follow-up care.

About the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program
Formally launched in 2005, the Patient Navigator Program, in collaboration with community-based hospitals and cancer centers, links those affected by cancer to patient navigators who serve as personal guides for patients and their caregivers to help them navigate the cancer experience – with a focus on eliminating barriers to cancer care for the medically under-served. Patient navigators receive national-level training through the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute Patient Navigation Research Program, as well as localized training and opportunities for ongoing education.

There are currently 133 American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program sites across the U.S. The American Cancer Society Patient Navigation Program is just one of the many American Cancer Society programs that help patients, their families, and caregivers manage the impact of cancer on their lives so they can focus on getting well.

About The American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

About San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH)
San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center is the sole provider of trauma and psychiatric emergency services for the City and County of San Francisco. A comprehensive medical center, SFGH serves some 100,000 patients per year and provides 20 percent of the city’s inpatient care. As San Francisco’s public hospital, SFGH’s mission is to provide quality health care and trauma services with compassion and respect to patients that include the city’s most vulnerable. General Hospital is also one of the nation’s top tertiary academic medical centers, partnering with the University of California, San Francisco on clinical training and research.

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