KGH gets funding for Care Navigators

News / General
By Peter Jeffrey

Our South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has agreed to fund a new position that's all about guiding patients on their journey from admission to discharge. In the summer, two Care Navigators were introduced to the medicine program as a pilot project. Now KGH will be recruiting for two more of these positions in the coming weeks.

So what does a Care Navigator do?

"You are a point person for both the patient and their care team. We speak with staff, families and Community Care Access Centre staff to make sure things are flowing smoothly," says Patient Care Navigator Alyson Lazier.

Lazier worked as a Patient Flow Nurse before starting as a Care Navigator in August. Along with Kathy Kittner, who was working as an Elder Life Nurse Specialist, the two helped pilot the navigator initiative. Since then, they have been introducing the role to teams on Connell 9 and Connell 10.

"We know from speaking with our patients that it's daunting to come into the hospital and not know what to expect," says Richard Jewitt, Program Operational Director of Medicine. "So the Care Navigator really helps to bridge that knowledge gap between patients and staff. And the continuity provided by Care Navigators is also a huge benefit to patient flow. We've seen a one-day drop in our length of stay in the last 12 months, and this initiative is part of that progress."

Care Navigators can also help save a huge amount of time for staff on the floor, says Kittner. "A physician can communicate something to the Care Navigator, and know that it will reach everyone. Or, a resident learner can ask a question about how we do things at KGH, and get some guidance without pulling the physician away from the bedside."

From the beginning, the focus has been on safe and delay-free discharge, says Lazier. "It's about great communication across the entire continuum of care, from patient, to front-line staff, to support services."