Anna Jordan says the most frequent questions she gets aren’t the easy ones.
As the sole nurse navigator at Sedro-Woolley’s PeaceHealth United General Medical Center, Jordan specializes in oncology and coordinates all levels of care for the hospital’s cancer patients. She’s the first medical professional a newly diagnosed patient generally speaks to following a diagnosis from their primary care physician.
The initial conversation can be full of fear for patients. How serious is my cancer? Am I going to die? “Those are very difficult questions to answer,” Jordan says. “Especially when nobody is sure of the answers.”
In the first conversation with a patient post-diagnosis, Jordan works to calm their anxieties, talk to them about the next steps in their cancer treatment journey, and provide them with access to any and all resources they may need. She remains their go-to source until they no longer require treatment. “My role is to listen to them, validate their feelings and concerns, and let them know they have an advocate for their care,” she says. “I want to make sure the patient is getting timely, effective care and not being forgotten about.”
Coordinating patient care between departments, Jordan works with various PeaceHealth departments and their patients on social work, financial advocacy and communication with their primary care and specialty physicians. In addition to providing each patient with as much information as she can about their specific cancer diagnosis, Jordan says her job is to offer the best sense of security she can for their overall care.
This sense of security includes sitting with patients during their first in-person meeting with an oncologist where a doctor-patient discussion about the formation of a treatment plan happens. Afterwards, Jordan follows up with patients on any and all referrals, ensuring they’re scheduled for appointments as soon as possible.
Financial concerns are something that Jordan hears from many of her patients, and she works hard to address their issues. This includes referrals to PeaceHealth financial advocates, who can help them figure out the best ways to collect necessary paperwork, pay for treatment, utilize their insurance and apply for financial assistance, if necessary.
As a cancer care center with medical and radiation oncology, PeaceHealth United General is one of the closest oncology centers that offer both chemotherapy and radiation treatments for those living in Skagit and San Juan counties. Jordan says she considers it a privilege to work with patients – especially those traveling from the San Juans or other rural locations – and coordinate plans to get them to their treatments. Jordan also helps with referrals to Seattle area cancer clinics when it comes to more challenging cancer surgeries.
The work of a nurse navigator sometimes gets them referred to as “angels at the sides” of the patients they serve. For Jordan, personally, parting with patients who successfully undergo treatment and enter remission is what makes it all worthwhile.
“I feel very happy that I could be a part of their journey and I could help them through the most difficult parts,” she says. “To see them come out stronger, and to reassure them that they’re a strong and resilient person, shows that anybody can take on a cancer diagnosis if they have the correct team and the right people advocating for them. Cancer is a very scary thing to go through, and nobody should be going through that alone.”