Education is at the core of the Financial Advocacy Network’s mission, as it is the leader in professional development for financial advocates. The 2022 strategic priority of the Education Task Force is to empower financial advocates with education and resources. The Task Force will do this by focusing on resources to support the advancement of health equity, capture of the full patient journey, case-based skills development strategies, and financial advocacy program development.
Meet the members of the Education Task Force:
Rachel is a patient financial navigator, specializing in generating creative, proactive solutions to minimize financial toxicity in cancer patients. She developed and implemented the financial navigation program at Susan G. Komen Colorado as well as Carol’s Wish Financial Navigation, a program of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, where she serves as Director. Rachel has presented on cancer-related financial toxicity and solutions through financial navigation at national and local conferences. She is a graduate of the ACCC’s Financial Advocacy Network Boot Camp, Levels 1 and 2, and the NaVectis Group financial navigator training, and brings her analytical skills from her previous experience as an attorney.
Amy Elgin is the Patient Resource Coordinator at AnMed Health. She assists patients and their families in a myriad of ways. Amy can arrange transportation, assist with insurance and financial questions, complete Medicaid and charity program applications, provide information on educational and community resources, file claims to cancer policies and direct patients through the process of applying for disability. Amy works in collaboration with clinical and support staff to establish connections to resources that supplement and enhance the overall well-being of our patients.
Amy graduated from Greenville Technical College with an Associate of Arts degree. She has continued to further her education by completing the Association of Community Cancer Centers Financial Advocacy Boot Camp I and II, CPR certification, SC Notary Certification, Mental Health First Aid Certification, and The NaVectis Financial Navigation Training Program. Amy has worked in the medical field for over 20 years.
For the past seven years, Rudy Garcia III, MPH, has worked at the Dell Children's Blood and Cancer Center of Central Texas in various roles. This is where he developed an interest in patient financial advocacy. Currently, Garcia is the administrative supervisor for the clinic and leads a team of passionate individuals who help with financial navigation initiatives to ensure patients do not face financial toxicity.
Garcia has a Bachelor of Science in human biology from the University of Texas, a Master of Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University, and is currently working toward a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in healthcare management at Capella University.
Arnela Kajdic-Tarantino is a certified transplant financial coordinator and program manager for the Center for Blood Cancer Therapy at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Boise, Idaho. She facilitates bone marrow, stem cell transplant, and immunotherapy processes, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, and acts as a liaison between revenue cycle, claims and billing, payer relations, internal contracting, and clinic and patient financial advocates. She also creates and implements training workflows for patient financial advocates specific to CAR T-cell therapy, manages internal data reports and dashboards, and leads revenue cycle workgroup initiatives.
Kajdic-Tarantino serves on the Transplant Financial Coordinator Association Committee and ACCC’s Financial Advocacy Network Education Task Force. With over 18 years of experience in healthcare, she is a passionate financial advocate and works to minimize financial toxicity for patients as well as support other financial advocates through training and educational initiatives. Kajdic-Tarantino earned her bachelor’s degree in health science from Boise State University in Idaho.
Christi Miller has worked in the medical field for over 10 years, starting her career in patient access financial counseling, to revenue cycle, and lastly to overseeing a local financial navigation program. As the patient assistance system manager at Bon Secours, St. Francis Millennium Cancer Center, Miller manages the financial navigation team for the entire ministry, overseeing multiple infusion centers and managing 21 financial navigators. She actively collaborates with Bon Secours Mercy’s ministry leadership, specialty pharmacy, inpatient pharmacy, and physician practices to expand its financial navigation footprint across the entire ministry.
In addition to this expansion, Miller is creating standard processes and a compliance program for her team to ensure the navigation program remains focused on assisting patients with insurance optimization and financial toxicity via patient assistance programs, while preventing unnecessary revenue loss for the ministry.
Angie Santiago, CRCS, is the oncology financial advocacy manager at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at the Thomas Jefferson University Health System. She created and implemented the Oncology Patient Assistance Program that is utilized by the health system. The program was initiated to assist patients with the acquisition of supplemental financial coverage, over and beyond what has been traditionally provided by the hospital’s business office.
Santiago has worked in healthcare for almost 21 years within patient access, revenue cycle, and financial counseling. She is a graduate of the Association of Community Cancer Centers Financial Advocacy Network boot camp and currently services as the chair for the network’s Advisory Committee. Santiago has also presented on financial toxicity and related topics at patient navigators’ networking meetings.
Heather Simpson is a patient financial navigator at Allina Health Cancer Institute in River Falls, Wisc., and Hastings, Minn. She has worked in healthcare for over 30 years. Simpson joined Allina Health’s patient access team in 2006. Two years later, she began addressing oncology patients’ billing questions and concerns, eventually leading Simpson to offer financial counseling to patients who were beginning treatment.
In 2019, Simpson’s passion for patient-centered care continued as she developed and implemented a lung cancer screening program at her organization. She works with the cancer institute’s Commission on Cancer accreditation as an integrated network, designing prevention and screening events across each location’s communities to promote cancer awareness. Simpson is a graduate of the Association of Community Cancer Center’s financial advocacy boot camp and board-certified patient advocate.
Wendi Waugh, BS, RT(R)(T), CMD, CTR, is Administrative Director of Cancer Services & Community Health and Wellness at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, Ohio. She brings more than 30 years of experience in healthcare to this role. She began her career in medical imaging but has spent the last 28 years in oncology. Her passion for community health and community development led her to assume a larger leadership role at Southern Ohio Medical Center in 2013, when she assumed leadership of the Community Health and Wellness teams.
A 13-year survivor of breast cancer, Wendi special interests include community development, public speaking, leadership, dance, fitness, hiking, and biking, and spending time with her family.
She is a graduate of the Radiologic Technology Program at Shawnee State University and received her training for radiation therapy at Weber State University. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration and Health Informatics from Kennedy Western Reserve. Wendi is also a Certified Cancer Registrar and Certified Medical Dosimetrist.
Christina White, MBA, GRMS, is the director of supportive and integrative programs at Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio. In her current role, White oversees the program’s oncology dietitians, social workers, massage therapists, art therapists, patient support navigators, financial support navigators, billers, coders, and authorization specialists. With this oversight, she creates a more streamlined and compassionate patient experience for patients prior to diagnosis and into survivorship. White joined Summa Health in 2010, then transitioning into oncology in 2012 to coordinate the health system’s uninsured mammography program and develop the oncology financial navigation team.
White is extremely passionate about providing supportive and integrative services to patients with cancer to ease their and their family’s burdens. She obtained her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt for leading a patient financial navigation project and has presented nationally multiple times to cancer programs and practices participating in the Oncology Care Model on financial navigation and how to obtain resources for patients.