Patient Navigators in Faith-Based Organizations in Medically Underserved Communities
Dr. Harold Freeman spearheaded “patient navigation” to promote early cancer detection for patients who lack insurance, providers, or who distrust the medical industry. Patient navigators share the cultural background of patients, schedule screenings, and address barriers to care such as providing transportation and financial assistance. Patient navigation has become the gold standard for improving cancer prevention among medically underserved populations. For fifteen years, Taussig’s Community Outreach Team has built on Freeman’s work, bringing navigation and cancer screenings to medically underserved communities. In addition, for ten years, the team has involved over fifty churches in outreach through the Stop Cancer In Its Tracks program (SCIIT). SCIIT has had great success educating congregations about cancer prevention, but referrals for cancer screenings have been negligible and in-reach into the communities surrounding the churches has been minimal. Therefore, we are undertaking an activity to increase referrals: a selection of churches in Cleveland’s most medically underserved areas will access the standard SCIIT resources and an embedded patient navigator. Navigators will meet regularly with church designees. They will implement cancer screenings, garner referrals for screenings, and navigate congregants and community members through screenings and treatments as needed. The navigator will support churches to develop outreach and referral processes. We will examine whether cancer screening referrals increase among congregants and the surrounding communities. We will review feedback from navigators and church leaders/members to understand whether more embedded navigators should be placed in additional faith-based organizations to improve cancer screenings.
We seek to increase referrals for cancer screenings in medically underserved areas of Cleveland. We are embedding patient navigators in faith-based organizations who will implement cancer screenings, garner referrals for screenings, and navigate congregants and community members through screenings and treatments as needed. Navigators work with church designees to use church in-reach and outreach to increase screening referrals to prevent late stage detection of cancer.