Nurse Navigation 

The mere thought of surgery can be overwhelming, especially for those who may already have health conditions that complicate daily living. At SUN Orthopaedics of Evangelical, medically complex patients deemed as needing an orthopaedic surgical procedure can put some of that worry aside as they get an assist from a nurse navigator.

A nurse navigator serves as a liaison between the patient and clinical care staff. They help navigate the patient through the treatment process by connecting them to resources and information to make informed decisions and to keep them on track for surgery and recovery.

At SUN Orthopaedics, there are three navigators on staff, one for joint replacement, one for sports medicine, and one for spine treatment.

From initial diagnosis, to surgical repair, nurse navigators work with patients in whatever way is needed to ensure their care is seamless. This could involve anything from working with other specialists involved in the patient’s care to make sure the whole patient is being considered, arranging for physical therapy at the right time, medication management, and ensuring that all health lab values are at the optimum level for successful surgery.

“Patients have to digest a great deal of information when they see a physician,” said Rachel Gordner, RN, BSN, Nurse Navigator for the Total Joint Program at SUN Orthopaedics of Evangelical. “As a nurse navigator, I make it possible for the patient to focus only on the key things they have to do to prepare for surgery.”

Nurse navigators do all the background work to get patients from point A to point B. They work as a multi-disciplinary team to make sure that all of the boxes are checked to produce the best outcome for the patient. This may mean working with social services if the patient doesn’t have a local support system to assist before and after surgery or working with the patient to monitor any health conditions that could impact timing or safety of surgery.

“Some patients, depending on their medical complexity, need to hear from us weekly to assist with their care plan, some may only have a few times where we need to be in touch. The important thing is that they have a name, a face, a person they can know and trust to get them the answers they need and to help them through the many steps of pre-surgical preparation,” said Gordner.

For the patient, nurse navigation brings the benefit of taking the guesswork out of preparing for their orthopaedic procedure. They don’t have to be overwhelmed by the logistics of preparing for a medical procedure but can instead concentrate on building up strength and health for a successful recovery and healing.

For the physicians and Hospital, nurse navigation brings the benefit of effective surgery scheduling with fewer cancellations because of unexpected issues with health or insurance requirements.

“It’s a win for everyone when nurse navigation is available,” said Gordner. “We get to make everything work together, but most of all, we get to build a relationship with patients and provide them the reassurance they need that someone is there with them to guide them through the process.”

Rachel Gordner
Rachel Gordner, RN, BSN, Nurse Navigator for the Total Joint Program at SUN Orthopaedics of Evangelical