Erica Martinez, RN, CHPN, OCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Center at Yuma Regional Medical Center
Located in a medically underserved area, Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Center joined forces with Myriad Genetics—a molecular diagnostic testing company—to offer genetic testing to appropriate patients who were flagged in the registration intake process prior to their first visit. After completing a hereditary cancer quiz, potential candidates are referred to a genetic counselor, who provides tele-education and conducts testing, if warranted. Within the first four months, there was a four-fold increase in genetic testing of cancer patients, affecting the clinical management of 20 percent of those cases.
It has historically been difficult to obtain genetic cancer counseling and testing services in Yuma, Arizona. There are no genetic counselors in this geographically expansive, medically underserved city of 200,000. If patients did want to receive genetic counseling services, they often had to travel more than 180 miles to do so.
“Referring patients to genetic testing has entailed significant financial costs and transportation hurdles for patients,” says Erica Martinez, RN, CHPN, OCN, an oncology nurse navigator at 2019 ACCC Award recipient Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Center. “Many of our patients are elderly, Spanish-speaking, or struggle with illiteracy, and they have limited financial resources. So navigating travel to a facility out of town to talk to a genetic counselor creates several barriers to care.”
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Christian G. Downs, JD, MHA, ACCC Executive Director, Ali McBride, PharmD, MS, BCOP, ACCC President 2019-2020, Erica Martinez, RN, CHPN, OCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Center at Yuma Regional Medical Center, Randall A. Oyer, MD, ACCC President Elect 2019-2020 Line
Genetic screening and testing are paving the way for improved patient care and outcomes on a broad scale
that encompasses both cancer treatment and prevention. Access to this testing is key to identifying and thereby reducing
disease burden, suffering, and cost. Being able to offer patients genetic screening and testing services also helps cancer programs provide the highest level of care. For medically underserved and rural regions, multiple barriers can limit access to these services, including cost and cultural and geographic challenges. This article describes how a community cancer center in rural Arizona overcame these obstacles so that patients receive genetic testing and counseling at no cost.
In the first four months of program's implementation, Yuma Cancer Center achieved a four-fold increase in genetic testing.
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