As nurse navigators for FirstHealth Cancer Services, Bobbi Clark, R.N., (seated), and Lynn Lanier, R.N., provide a GPS-like service for cancer patients by serving as a constant point of contact for information and support. Their assistance may involve a single contact or a continuing relationship.
PINEHURST – Lynn Lanier and Bobbi Clark are registered nurses who provide a unique service for FirstHealth cancer patients.
Each of these two nursing veterans brings a diverse background to her current role as a patient navigator with FirstHealth Cancer Services. Their aid and assistance can begin at any time during the always complicated and sometimes confusing journey through cancer care.
Matt Sherer, administrative director of FirstHealth Cancer Services, calls patient navigation a vital component of FirstHealth’s cancer program.
“A navigator is like GPS on your smartphone,” Sherer says. “You need help to find where you are going. The navigator’s role is just that. A patient can call them with any concern. The navigator may be able to resolve the issue now or will at least know how to direct the patient to the appropriate person or resource to help resolve the issue.”
In addition to guiding and supporting cancer patients and their families as they encounter the various elements of cancer services, Lanier and Clark help coordinate care and identify local resources and support that would be appropriate for their patients.
Their assistance may involve a single contact or a continuing relationship. They may accompany a patient to multiple appointments involving a variety of medical disciplines -- surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology. Or they be on call to lend an occasional listening ear.
“Every patient has a need,” Lanier says.
A registered nurse for almost 29 years, Lanier has had nursing roles in various FirstHealth services including Neonatal Intensive Care, Pediatrics, Home Health and Community Health.
“I really think that diverse background helped establish this role in linking my patients to resources,” she says.
She recently received her national certification as an oncology nurse navigator from the Academy of Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) after passing the program’s first certification exam. Earlier, she was one of only 75 oncology patient navigators from throughout the country to be invited to sit for a beta (trial) exam during the guideline-testing phase for the new certification program.
With nearly 14 years of nursing experience, Clark has also had various direct patient care and nurse leadership roles since becoming a nurse. In addition to private practice and staff nursing positions, she served as director of Patient Care Services/nurse executive at Moore Regional Hospital-Hoke Campus before moving into cancer patient navigation in 2016.
“This is what I love,” she says. “I really can’t imagine being anywhere other than oncology.”
Currently, Clark and Lanier actively follow about 30 FirstHealth cancer patients each. Financial navigator Tenasha Goins complements their services by linking underinsured or uninsured patients with available financial resources, including those provided by The Foundation of FirstHealth’s Cancer CARE Fund. She also works with patients who are having trouble accessing care because of problems related to transportation and medication costs.
Patient navigation is a component of the FirstHealth Cancer Care program that is accredited, with commendation, by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. For more information on patient navigation or other FirstHealth cancer services, call (800) 213-3284.