CentraState Healthcare System

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Friday, April 05, 2013 - CentraState’s Cancer Navigator Offers Support to Patients

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP - Getting a diagnosis of cancer can be one of the worst things a person will deal with in their life.  At CentraState, state-of-the-art treatment, delivered by highly trained, specialized physicians is enhanced by the services of Sharon Lorfing, a nurse practitioner and cancer navigator - all part of our comprehensive cancer care program.  In this role, Sharon helps patients with cancer and their families with those unique, unmet needs – from finding an oncologist and setting up appointments, to identifying support services and providing resources to help with financial burdens. Sharon explains, “I can even help people with basic needs such as finding transportation to appointments and childcare services.”

Immediately after a diagnosis, the patient receives a call from Sharon. While she tailors her information to fit the patient’s particular type of cancer, the message is essentially the same to all.  She is there to expedite their care and get them through their treatment in the most positive, knowledgeable and stress-free manner possible.

For patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, Sharon identifies potential side effects of these therapies and methods to minimize the effects.  She points them to support groups, where they might feel less alone and possibly learn some successful strategies.

Sharon reports that the cancer treatment process “becomes your world, your life.”  By allowing the navigator to assume the role of patient advocate, facilitator of communication between health care providers, and assist in appointment scheduling and transportation needs when necessary, the patient can step back from the demanding process, knowing that the issue will be well handled. “Perhaps even more important, I am here to help the entire family,” Sharon explains.  “Cancer, like many other serious illnesses takes a toll on every member of the family, not just the patient; I offer resources to help everyone cope with the diagnosis and treatment.”

The cancer navigator even helps patients who are overwhelmed financially by the cost of their treatments.  When patients are uninsured, underinsured or unable to pay for their co-pays or medications, Lorfing helps locate funding that may offset some of the patients’ expenses.

With the cancer navigator, patients at CentraState now have a friend and clinician to guide them throughout the cancer treatment process and to provide a menu of resources designed to ease their experiences.

Sharon, who lost her own mother to cancer three years ago, treats patients as if they were her family members.  “I don’t care who calls me.    If they have a question and they don’t know whom to turn to, they can call or email me anytime.  I am very accessible.  I hope that I can make someone’s journey a little less stressful.”

The range of cancers treated at CentraState has expanded greatly with the inclusion of two thoracic surgeons who are highly experienced in minimally invasive chest surgery; board-certified neurosurgeons with expertise in head, neck and spine injuries; a board-certified, fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon; and a team of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons and radiologists.  Their success rates, experience levels and low complication rates are increasing CentraState’s reputation as a well-respected, fully accredited cancer center in central New Jersey offering the best available treatment options.

The cancer navigator rounds out an already excellent clinical setting for cancer treatment, providing informed guidance and a compassionate touch that sets CentraState apart from larger institutions.  Our physicians studied and trained at leading medical institutions across the country and have access to diagnostic, interventional and therapeutic radiology, as well as proton radiation therapy at ProCure Proton Therapy Center, the only proton center between Boston and Philadelphia. They have expertise in robotic and minimally invasive surgery as well. According to Lorfing, “patients could go to the bigger hospitals, located in more urban areas and get the same level of expertise, but they wouldn’t get the personalized care that they get right here, close to home.  It’s not just a job, the cancer clinical team truly cares about doing what’s best for our patients.”

The role of patient navigator has become a vital component in most Comprehensive Cancer Care programs accredited by the Commission on Cancer.  For further information on CentraState’s Cancer Navigator Program, contact Sharon Lorfing at (732) 637-6365.