Patient Navigators Selected for Esteemed Certification Program

October 13, 2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Two patient navigators from the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have been accepted to the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute and Certification Program in New York – the only certification program of its kind that exists in the country.

Robin Lewis, R.N., B.S.N. and Mary Flowers, are breast care patient navigators who work in the Breast Care Center. Led by the foremost expert in the field of patient navigation, this program admits only a select few from a pool of applicants from cancer centers across the United States. The training, which will take place in New York City Nov. 5-7, provides practical, research-based information and helps the participants understand how to tailor patient navigation programs to meet their communities’ specific needs.

“Congratulations to our navigators, Mary and Robin,” said Marcy Poletti, R.N., M.S.N., who serves as the oncology service line program administrator and oversees the patient navigators. “The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute's Certification Program is the gold standard in patient navigation.”

Patient navigation is a concept that was pioneered in 1990 by Harold P. Freeman, M.D. According to the institute’s website, the “purpose of patient navigation is to eliminate barriers to timely diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The most important role of patient navigation is to assure that any patient with a suspicious finding will receive timely diagnosis and treatment.” The model taught at the institute addresses outreach efforts but focuses on the “critical window between an initial cancer finding and the resolution of that finding through timely diagnosis and treatment.”

The institute was established in June 2007 by The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. Made possible by a generous $2.5 million leadership grant from the Amgen Foundation, the institute was established to provide training to individuals associated with organizations which may develop or expand patient navigation programs throughout the country and across the world.

Patient navigation has a special role in assuring that people receive appropriate screening examinations and in ensuring that any patient with an abnormal finding receives timely diagnosis and treatment. Throughout the navigation process, patient navigators seek to bridge cultural and linguistic barriers, find financial resources, track appointments, coordinate transportation services, and much more. Patient navigation has increased retention, diagnostic and treatment resolution rates over the years. In addition to the improved clinical outcomes for patients, the improved patient retention and adherence rates directly impact a facility’s efficiencies, prevents lost revenue, and ultimately provides financial benefits to the facility.

Healthcare organizations and individuals interested in starting or expanding a patient navigation program can call 212-537-5500 or visit


Media Relations Contacts: Bonnie Davis,, (336) 716-4977; or Shannon Koontz,, at (336) 716-4587.

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