Patient Navigator cuts red tape to ensure excellent care

February 8, 2016

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.

Students Fc
TCOM hosting national meeting for osteopathic medical students

By Alex Branch   Student government presidents and vice presidents from every osteopathic medical school in the United States will convene at UNT Health Science Center for their annual national meeting. It’s the first time in 15 years that UNTHSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medi...Read more

Jan 15, 2019

Ric Fc
Dr. Robert Richard earns TCOM’s first outstanding preceptor award

By Alex Branch   Robert Richard, DO, told UNT Health Science Center medical student Sarah Hmaidan exactly what she should expect from him as her preceptor. “He told me if he wasn’t inspiring me to be the best doctor I could be or challenging me to see the whole patient, then he was...Read more

Jan 10, 2019

Sidr Fc
Generous gift boosts UNTHSC’s dementia research

By Alex Branch A generous estate gift from a longtime community volunteer whose family was impacted by dementia will establish a $3 million endowed chair to support groundbreaking research into Alzheimer’s disease and other translational research projects at UNT Health Science Center. Si...Read more

Jan 8, 2019

For Fc
UNTHSC appoints new dean of School of Health Professions

By Alex Branch J. Glenn Forister, PhD, PA-C, believes in the value of high-performing teams, and that’s what he sees at UNT Health Science Center. The institution’s One University concept, values-based culture and focus on extraordinary teamwork are concepts that led Dr. Forister to accept...Read more

Jan 7, 2019