Community Outreach, Prevention & Early Detection: A New National Committee

July 2020 Vol 11, No 7

Categories:

AONN+ Committees

The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) is pleased to announce the launch of a national committee addressing community outreach, prevention, and early detection. The focus of this committee is to advance the role of navigation within the care continuum for those at risk by encouraging prevention, screening, and early detection. The committee will provide a network for collaboration and development of best practices for prevention and screening programs with the goal of identifying at-risk patients and diagnosing patients with early-stage disease.

AONN+ appointed Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, BS, University of Colorado Cancer Center, and Kim Parham, RN, BSN, CN-BN, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, as co-chairs of the Community Outreach, Prevention & Early Detection Committee. We are excited about the contributions they will make in this endeavor and invite you to read their acceptance statements.

Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, BS

University of Colorado Cancer Center

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 cancers 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 the coronavirus pandemic has created.

I invite you all to join our efforts at 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 the statewide Alliance for Patient Navigators, I believe we have a chance to make an impact at the local and national levels.

I recently had the pleasure to advise Fight Colorectal Cancer, a national advocacy and research partner, and lead a collaboration with Komodo Health, a healthcare technology company, to develop a research brief published by Reuters and featured by The New York Times highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer care volumes, behaviors, and attitudes.1 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.”1 I believe the findings point to an opportunity for patient navigators to address delayed cancer screenings and health equity during this COVID-19 crisis.

Key takeaways from the brief:

  • 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 last year’s figures
  • Nearly 40% of colorectal cancer patients 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 were changed to telehealth

Please join us at this crucial time in a coordinated and collaborative effort 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

GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer

I began my career as a breast health specialist and eventually accepted a position as a cancer support program director over 3 hospitals with 15 clinical and nonclinical navigators and licensed clinical social workers. Our goal was to focus on early detection within multitumor types. Currently, I am with the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer as the Associate Director for Quality Programs and Clinical Relations working in screening and care programs. I am excited to co-chair the Community Outreach, Prevention & Early Detection Committee and bring my 35 years of nursing experience to this role.

Now more than ever, we need to focus our efforts to increase oncology screening rates during the COVID- 19 pandemic. Geographically dependent, almost all locations have stopped cancer screening nationwide. Outreach activities have been halted, and many healthcare professionals were furloughed or had their hours cut. As we begin to reopen, outreach programs for those who qualify need reinforcement with emphasis on the importance of appropriate screening in a safe environment. Unique outreach methodologies and innovative ways to reach those at risk need to be developed and shared.

The Community Outreach, Prevention & Early Detection Committee will become increasingly important addressing these issues and more. Together we will create a powerful committee, meeting the professional needs of those working within the outreach, screening, and early detection areas of the continuum of cancer care.

Please join me and Andi in this new endeavor by sharing your expertise and voice to help advance this crucial component of oncology care.

References

  1. Fight Colorectal Cancer. Reuters Features Fight CRC Findings on the Effects of COVID-19 on CRC Patients. https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/ blog/reuters-covid-feature. 2020.

For more information about the Community Outreach, Prevention & Early Detection Committee, please visit https://AONNonline.org.

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If we surveyed nurse and patient navigators around the country and asked them if one of their primary job responsibilities includes policy advocacy, it is unlikely that question would be met with a resounding “yes.” Yet, every person engaged in oncology navigation is also engaged in patient and policy advocacy each and every day.

Last modified: July 9, 2020

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