You Don’t Have to Face Illness Alone: Meet Our Patient Navigators

We understand it’s easy for patients to feel swept away by the tide of information that comes with healthcare. Just wading through the paperwork and treatment choices alone can feel overwhelming.

You don’t have to go it alone. More healthcare providers, including Michigan Institute of Urology, have added team experts who can help navigate the healthcare process when it feels too complicated to do it alone.

We call them patient navigators, and their numbers are growing. The Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators alone counts more than 8,900 members.

More care providers are joining this profession, and for good reason. Patients in treatment are typically at a vulnerable stage, undertaking the daunting task of scheduling numerous appointments while trying to understand the implications of their diagnoses. Their fear of the unknown – about their disease, treatment options, and prognosis – can be exhausting.

Even common illnesses can have this affect, because each is unique to a person. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a urinary health condition, this is how a patient navigator can help.

Navigators Help You Get Grounded

Think of a patient navigator as your own care liaison; someone who acts on your behalf with the medical team.

From your perspective as a patient, this means the patient navigator is a personal advocate. They will guide you through the unknown territories of your care and ease uncertainty during your treatment journey.

Your navigator will help schedule appointments, help you coordinate your treatment plan, and serve as a translator, to help you understand your disease so you can make more informed, confident decisions.

Meet Our Patient Navigators

At the Michigan Institute of Urology, three patient navigators are on staff to guide patients diagnosed with these urinary medical conditions.

  • Prostate cancer: Pamela Jones, our prostate cancer patient navigator at our Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic, is a registered nurse and certified family nurse practitioner. Pamela brings more than 30 years of healthcare experience to the team, with about 10 years as a patient navigator at MIU.
  • Overactive bladder (OAB): Denise Cronan, our OAB patient navigator, is a certified medical assistant. Denise has been with MIU for 11 years and on the navigation team for six years.
  • Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia/BPH): Alexis Ziesmer, our BPH patient navigator, began working with our MIU team in 2022. Alexis has her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and serves as a strong patient advocate.

With a Navigator, You Are Never Alone

Through our patient navigator program, this dedicated team helps our patients understand their conditions, coordinate their treatment plans, schedule appointments, and advise on their behalf.

For example, if you are an MIU patient with overactive bladder, Denise will check in with you to learn how you are responding to medications. She can schedule follow-up appointments and explain the tests and third-line therapies available to treat your diagnoses. She will also facilitate communications between you and the OAB care team.

“One of the most rewarding benefits of being a navigator is the comfort patients get from not feeling alone,” Denise said. “They have that point person with whom they feel comfortable enough to discuss this very personal issue.”

Similarly, our prostate cancer navigator, Pamela, would be the liaison between you and a care team that includes a primary care physician, an oncologist, hematologist, pharmacist, and nurses. She would also explain the differences between immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation treatments.

And our BPH navigator, Alexis Ziesmer, would help you choose the best state-of-the-art treatment options for yourlifestyles, including UroLift, GreenLight Laser Therapy, transurethral resection of prostate, robotic surgery, and more.

Every one of these services saves our patients time, so they can focus on their treatment and recovery. But to our patients, the single greatest service our patient navigators provide is a sense of security; the comfort of knowing someone is there when you’re facing the unknown.

To learn about the signs of OAB, enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer, we encourage you to visit our web pages dedicated to these conditions.

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