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Published on July 16, 2014

Patient Navigator

HELP Navigating Healthcare

New Programs at Saint Mary's Provide Guidance and Support on the Way to Wellness


Patients who have suffered a heart attack and those diagnosed with chronic heart failure face many concerns during the recovery process, including follow-up care, new medications, and lifestyle changes. During the first few weeks at home, as many as one in four heart failure patients returns to the hospital, often due to stress or because he or she did not understand or was unable to properly perform homecare procedures.

A new Patient Navigator Program at Saint Mary’s helps ensure heart patients never have to feel alone or overwhelmed during this vulnerable period. Saint Mary’s is one of 15 hospitals in the United States and the only one in New England selected to participate in the American College of Cardiology’s Patient Navigator Program. Saint Mary’s team of caregivers, including physicians, nurses, and cardiac rehabilitation therapists, helps heart patients make a smooth transition from hospital to home, teaching them to manage their conditions with greater confidence and minimize the risk of future hospitalizations.

“The goal of the program is to educate patients about the disease process and expand care beyond the walls of the hospital to care for patients at home,” said Dr. Paul Kelly, board-certified cardiologist and Chief of Cardiology and Medical Director of Cardiac Services at Saint Mary’s. “After patients go home, they are contacted by the same nurses they met in the hospital, who review medications and instructions with patients and ensure they are receiving appropriate follow-up care. We’re also taking advantage of new technology, such as digital EKGs, and collaborating with Emergency Medical Technicians in the community to enhance access to care.”


Similarly, Saint Mary’s has a Nurse Navigator in its Emergency Department who provides support and guidance to patients after they are discharged and helps them to understand both their condition and recommended treatment. The Nurse Navigator guides patients and their family members through the complexities of the healthcare system, helps find the best facility or specialist to provide follow-up care, and connects them to community resources for further assistance.

“The intent of the ED Patient Navigator Program is to provide healthcare in the most appropriate setting as well as educate patients to be involved and empowered in their care,” said Robin Cracco, RN, MSN, Nurse Navigator at Saint Mary’s. “I am an advocate for the patient, and I have knowledge of the Greater Waterbury community services that may be available to help.”

After patients are discharged from the ED, the Nurse Navigator contacts them to check on their medical status, review instructions, and answer any questions they or their family members may have. This is particularly important for patients who were diagnosed with serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. The Nurse Navigator can also help with scheduling doctor’s appointments, arranging for transportation, and finding financial assistance to pay for prescriptions.

Interested in the topic of Patient Navigators? Learn more about our new Cardiology Patient Navigator Program

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