Health Break | Published June 15, 2007 | Written by Kristin Sides, BS, certified patient navigator, cancer program, Mount Nittany Medical Center

Patient Navigation Guides The Way

Have you ever felt the frustration of trying to coordinate multiple doctors' appointments? How about trying to find a ride to a doctor's visit? What about the worry of your medicine not being covered by insurance, or worse yet, not having insurance at all? We all have experienced the occasional stress of juggling the demands of life when it's time to see a physician. What if instead of making appointments for something routine, you were coordinating appointments for cancer care?

For persons facing a diagnosis of cancer, it can be a very difficult and overwhelming time dealing with all that is involved in diagnosis and treatment. A patient navigator can help patients guide their way through the health care system and help work through any obstacles a person with cancer may be experiencing.

The patient navigator can provide:

  • Guidance through the health care system

  • Help with questions about insurance and patient assistance programs

  • Help to fill out insurance forms

  • Help to find ways to pay for health care if someone does not have insurance or if insurance does not cover recommended treatment

  • Direction to local resources and support systems

  • Help to coordinate transportation getting to and from treatments and medical appointments

  • Direction to health care services for further information about your diagnosis and treatment

  • Help to get questions answered

  • Emotional support

  • Help to keep track of appointments

  • Assistance in accessing reduced cost medications

There are national and local resources for people with cancer and it is the aim of the patient navigator to help find and utilize the resources that will be most helpful. The patient navigator serves as an advocate, someone to make recommendations and provide support.

If you are a person facing a cancer diagnosis or know someone that could benefit from speaking with the patient navigator, contact Kristin Sides at 814.234.6175 or by email at

People living with cancer should be able to focus their energies on healing and managing the other important areas of their life. A patient navigator's support in getting access to different types of resources can help make that possible.

Kristin Sides is the Patient Navigator for cancer care at Mount Nittany Medical Center.