As oncology nurse and patient navigators, you are likely noticing the “go-to” organizations that you have relied on for years to support your patients are gone or have dramatically downsized. These organizations helped break down barriers by providing transportation, financial support, and all kinds of help for your patient. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations’ fundraising events have been reduced to virtual capabilities. Events like Races for the Cure or Relay for Life have not been able to happen in person since March 2020. Without the donations these events bring, organizations are placed in a financial crisis that cannot be fixed in the short-term, and for some, even the long-term.
Oncology navigators like us need to get creative in providing resources to our patients that will enable them to still get the care and treatment they need.
If you are not able to use transportation services due to the potential risks of COVID-19 exposure, try speaking with a family member or even close friend of the patient to determine if they can assist. If they can, then it may mean changing the date and time of the consultation or treatment to adapt to that person’s schedule.
If your patient is having trouble accessing food, encourage them to take advantage of food banks. The patient’s budget can then be redirected to cover prescriptions or other healthcare expenses at this time.
Nurse and patient navigators are in the position to reach out to advocacy groups. Consider writing a letter to the advocacy organizations you have relied on and let them know that you have valued their services and hope to see them get re-engaged later on in 2021. This can foster a discussion with their leadership and keep you updated on the position of the organization.
Oncology navigators know the worth of water when the well is dry. That is what these organizations are experiencing, and it is having a domino effect on our patients.
I am hopeful that some advocacy groups will return, joining with others to create a new and larger platform for advocacy work.