Making a Difference
Meet Sky Ridge Medical Center's Breast Health Navigator
Who? Christina Mullen, a mammographer who graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a sports health and wellness degree before going to the University of Las Vegas for her radiology work.
Why? Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are awash in emotions and a wave of appointments and foreign medical procedures, and can feel a little like a ship lost at sea. Mullen's job is to call them as soon as they hear the diagnosis and offer her help in navigating through the maze. As cancer diagnoses and treatments become more complicated, the trend toward navigators in the healthcare system is growing.
"With breast cancer, you can be seeing multiple physicians for a variety of procedures," Mullen says. "I'm the point person, the piece within the healthcare puzzle that connects everything together."
Like what? Sometimes, women just need help making or keeping their appointments. Sometimes they face barriers: single moms with no child care; women with no health insurance; patients with no transportation. Merritt is trained to help them work through any barrier and to find them support.
"Some patients just need encouragement throughout their treatment," Mullen says.
What else? In addition to support, Breast Health Navigators offer education and resources. Mullen uses the American Cancer Society resources to help educate patients about their disease, treatments and other issues: such as diet, exercise and support groups. Mullen says she became a navigator because her goal was to make a difference in women's health. "I just take care of them. When their treatment is done, they look back and say: I had someone holding my hand the whole way through. They are so grateful, and I find that immensely rewarding."