Patient Navigator cuts red tape to ensure excellent care

By Betsy Friauf

Staci Rhoudes with Patients

 

Bernice Etcoff needed help. She couldn’t lift her arm to do simple things like combing her hair or getting dressed. She was in pain and had an unexplained sudden weakness in her shoulder.

Based on a physical exam, her physician, David C. Mason, DO, suspected a torn rotator cuff. An imaging study would confirm his diagnosis.

“Often, MRIs are used to diagnose these injuries. But for Mrs. Etcoff, who is 89, the MRI procedure, which requires lying motionless in a noisy tube, would be far too uncomfortable,” said Dr. Mason. So he decided in favor of an ultrasound exam that is easier for the patient to tolerate and is far less expensive than an MRI.

The problem was that there are not many radiologists in North Texas who perform and read musculoskeletal ultrasound exams of the shoulder. That’s where Patient Navigator Staci Rhoudes, who works with Dr. Mason, stepped in to run interference.

“She called all over town to find a radiologist who would do the test,” said Mrs. Etcoff’s daughter, Michele Reynolds.

The patient navigator in Dr. Mason’s osteopathic manipulation practice helps patients get the care they need. She cuts the red tape that can delay referrals, insurance authorizations and other prerequisites.

“I help patients with paperwork, and for new patients, I do it well ahead so their first visit goes smoothly,” Rhoudes said. “They work with the same person – me – all through the treatment, for continuity. I help arrange tests, physical therapy and other interprofessional needs.” After the initial visit a follow-up call is made to make sure the experience was positive and all questions answered. Any testing or consultations are tracked down for review at the next visit.

Rhoudes also becomes the direct line of communication between the patient and the doctor. Her familiar face in the office or voice on the phone reassures the patient that the message will be delivered.

In Mrs. Etcoff’s case, Rhoudes also found a specialty pharmacy that would prepare a specific topical cream to relieve pain, prescribed by Dr. Mason.

“Dr. Mason’s use of the osteopathic approach to medicine combines with Rhoudes’ work as patient navigator to create a comfortable, coordinated care environment for the patient,” Reynolds said. Communication, education and follow-up helps reduce the confusion and fear associated with being sick and trying to arrange for treatment.

With Dr. Mason’s care and the physical therapy he prescribed, Mrs. Etcoff said, “I can get dressed and fix my hair on my own.” Her range of motion is a better and so is her quality of life.

In fact, Reynolds is so pleased with the care her mother receives, she herself is a patient of Dr. Mason, and she brings her husband and two daughters to him.

To arrange an appointment with a UNT Health provider, call 817-735-3627.

Recent News

Techstars Demo Day.
  • On Campus
|Dec 1, 2022

Techstars Demo Day brings innovation to the historic stockyards

For the last 13 weeks, the founders of 10 of the world’s most innovative startups have been in Fort Worth perfecting their new physical health technology. They are part of the world’s first physical health accelerator, and now they are ready to show the fruits of their labor. Techstars Demo D...
Dr. Sid O'bryant Award
  • Our People
|Dec 1, 2022

HSC named the winner of the D Magazines 2022 Achievement in Medical Research Award

The extensive research done by Dr. Sid O’Bryant and his team at the Institute of Translational Research has earned the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth the 2022 Medical Research Award by D Magazine. Dr. O’Bryant, the executive director of the ITR and a professor at t...
Dr. John Licciardone
  • Our People
|Nov 30, 2022

Key study results from HSC’s PRECISION Pain Research Registry published in JAMA Network Open

The Journal of the American Medical Association – Network Open has published findings from a recent HSC study about chronic lower back pain, race and the patient-physician relationship. The study revealed that Black patients reported worse outcomes for low back pain intensity and back-related d...
Ram flyer
  • Community
|Nov 23, 2022

Free pop-up medical, vision and dental clinic is just a week away

  The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and Remote Area Medical – RAM® — a nonprofit provider of pop-up clinics that delivers free quality dental, vision and medical care to those in need — are bringing the free health care clinic to Dallas on Dec. 3 and 4....