US Senator Robert Menendez Announces Federal Funding For Program To Guide Patients And For Lourdes Medical Center Of Burlington County

US Senator Robert Menendez Announces Federal Funding For Program To Guide Patients And For Lourdes Medical Center Of Burlington County

The Patient Navigator Program, established by Sen. Menendez, can now begin to take form through competitive grants

Willingboro - U. S. Senator Robert Menendez today joined Lourdes Medical Center officials and staff to announce the procurement of $2.9 million in initial federal funding for a program he established to guide patients through the health care system - the first national program of its kind. Senator Menendez also announced more than $718,000 in funding for health care programs at Lourdes. Funding for both the Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Program and for the programs at Lourdes were secured at part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations bill, which was signed into law last week.

The Patient Navigator Program, which Senator Menendez created in 2005 and which now has the federal funding to be implemented, will help patients, including those in underserved communities, to overcome the barriers they face in getting early screening and appropriate follow-up treatment.

"I am proud that the Patient Navigator System will now move forward to assist patients who have recently received a life changing diagnosis and desperately need assistance in making sense of their treatment options," said Senator Menendez. "The Patient Navigator will guide patients in these trying emotional situations to the resources available to them in the health care system and their communities."

Patient Navigators are individuals who know the local community and will serve as sentinel to community residents -- reaching out to make sure they receive appropriate screenings and helping patients understand the health care system they depend upon. Navigators will help with referrals and follow up treatment and will be the "go-to person" when patients need a better understanding of the health system and their treatment options.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will establish procedures for this competitive grant program. Request For Proposals will be issued in the coming months.

Senator Menendez also announced federal funding for the following programs:

Cancer program at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County - $143,518.
These funds will help in the acquisition of digital mammography equipment and software as well as technology to automate and integrate patient records making critical data available to all staff while insuring patient family needs are met.

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center Intensive Care Nursery and Osborn Family Health Center - $575,055.
Funding will replace 15 year-old fetal monitoring systems with a new one that will archive patient information and enhance communication with the Maternal-Child Division and will acquire state of the art intensive care nursery warmers used for extremely low birth weight infants, essential in the care of premature and low birth weight infants.

"Timely access to patient records saves lives and it is important to make the information available to the medical staff as quickly as possible. Early diagnosis is equally important, and I am pleased that I was able to help secure the funding that will enhance these capabilities at Lourdes Medical Center," said Menendez.

BACKGROUND ON PATIENT NAVIGATORS:

The goal of a patient navigator is to improve health outcomes by helping patients, including patients in underserved communities, overcome the barriers they face in getting early screening and appropriate follow-up treatment. Patient navigator programs must include 3 components: 1) ongoing, year-round outreach, 2) access or referral to preventive care, and 3) a patient navigator to help patients once they enter the health care system. Patient navigators are not limited to just cancer patients, but focus on preventing and treating a broad range of chronic diseases.

Patient navigators are individuals who know the local community and can help patients navigate through the complicated health care system. They help with referrals and follow-up treatment and direct patients to programs and clinical trials that are available to help them get the treatment and care they need to fight cancer and other chronic diseases. In addition, the patient navigator guides patients to health coverage that they may be eligible to receive. They also conduct ongoing outreach to health disparity communities to encourage people to get screenings and early detection services.

All patients benefit from patient navigators. Racial and ethnic minorities benefit from patient navigators because they ensure that patients will have someone at their side who understands their language, culture, and barriers to care, helping them get in to see a doctor early and work their way through our complicated health care system to get the coverage and treatment they need to stay healthy. The same applies to those in rural communities who face significant geographic barriers, transportation challenges, and limited access to care.

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