AONN+ is pleased to announce the launch of a new AONN+ national committee, the Community Outreach, Prevention, & Early Detection Committee. In this article, you will hear from our 2 co-chairs, Andrea Dwyer and Kim Parham.
Why this committee?
To advance the role of navigation within the care continuum of those at risk, through prevention, screening, and early detection. The committee will provide a network for collaboration and development of best practice within the outreach and screening of the cancer care continuum. Shared learning and collaboration will occur from best practice of prevention programs, screening programs, early diagnosis, and improving potential patients at risk to those newly diagnosed patients.
Andrea (Andi) Dwyer
University of Colorado Cancer Center
Advisor, Fight Colorectal Cancer, Research and Patient Education
I am honored to serve as a co-chair for the AONN+ Community Outreach, Prevention, & Early Detection Committee. As a director of our statewide program for the medically underserved for colorectal, lung, and hereditary cancer screening in Colorado, my priority is to address disparities for the medically underserved. This newly launched committee is a great initiative to help us face the complexities created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is my pleasure to invite all of you to join our efforts in a time when screening and early detection is more important than ever. As vice chair of the National Navigation Roundtable and chair of the Colorado Cancer Coalition and our statewide Alliance for Patient Navigators, I believe we have a chance to make an impact at the local and national levels.
I had the pleasure to advise Fight Colorectal Cancer, a national advocacy and research partner, and lead a collaboration with the healthcare technology company Komodo Health to develop a research brief published by Reuters and featured by The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/05/27/us/27reuters-health-coronavirus-usa-cancer-exclusive.html) highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer care volumes, behaviors, and attitudes. This report was developed based on findings from a Komodo Health analysis and from Fight Colorectal Cancer patient focus groups and surveys aimed at better understanding the current landscape of cancer and the coronavirus, and how to prepare for the future.
According to the brief:
“The findings underscore the need for public health and health system policies that can prioritize vulnerable populations and for those whom a delay in care is most likely to result in poor outcomes.”
The findings point to a huge opportunity for patient navigators to address delayed cancer screenings and health equity during this COVID-19 crisis, regardless of the pandemic.
- The total number of colonoscopies and biopsies performed declined nearly 90% by mid-April compared with the same period last year
- New colorectal cancer diagnoses were down more than 32% by mid-April, and colorectal cancer surgeries fell by 53% compared with figures from this time last year
- Nearly 40% of patients with colorectal cancer and caregivers reported disruptions in their care, especially as it relates to in-person visits and imaging. Of these, 25% said they did not know when their care would be rescheduled, and 34% said their visits changed to telehealth
Please join us at this crucial time in a coordinated and collaborative effort to continue to address screening and early detection to save lives. We look forward to our shared mission and working together.
Kim Parham, RN, BSN, CN-BN
Associate Director, Quality Care and Clinical Relations
GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
Now, more than ever, we need to focus our efforts on increasing oncology screening rates coupled with COVID-19. Geographically dependent, almost all locations stopped cancer screening nationwide. Outreach activities were halted, and many professionals were furloughed or had hours cut. As we are beginning to reopen, our outreach to those who qualify needs reinforcement regarding the importance of appropriate screening in a safe environment. Unique outreach methodologies and innovative ways to reach those at risk may be developed and shared. In addition, those who have already started with screening programs need to send special reminders. Many levels of anxiety have occurred for patients who need their annual screening, but many also require diagnostic workups, physician appointments, and surgeries that were delayed.
The Community Outreach, Prevention, & Early Detection Committee will become increasingly important as it addresses these issues and more. I am very excited to be a part of the new committee, bringing 35 years of nursing experience. In 2000, I began as a breast health specialist and then became a cancer support program director over 3 hospitals with 15 clinical and nonclinical navigators and licensed clinical social workers. Working with multi-tumor types, all with a focus on early detection, was our hospital’s goal. Currently, I am Associate Director for Quality Programs and Clinical Relations at the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer working on our excellence in screening and care programs.
Together we can have a powerful committee, meeting the professional needs of those working within the outreach, screening, and early detection areas of the cancer care continuum.
Please join Andi and me, sharing your expertise and voice to help communicate this needed component within oncology care.
For more information about the Community Outreach, Prevention, & Early Detection Committee, please visit https://aonnonline.org/community/committees/community-outreach-prevention-early-detection-committee.