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.
Anette Ehry Ventura has been with Intermountain Healthcare, formerly SCL Health, for more than 19 years in various roles, the majority of which were in the oncology department. When she started her role as a patient financial counselor for the SCL Cancer Center in 2014, there was no similar position within the SCL system. Ventura’s accomplishments include increasing co-pay assistance collections by 20 percent and integrating financial counseling into the interdisciplinary cancer care team. In 2018, Ventura joined the Leadership Team for Financial Counseling to share her expertise. She has helped implement the financial navigation model at all SCL Health Colorado Cancer Centers, helped increase co-pay assistance collections by 37 percent, and helped expand the traditional role of financial navigators.
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.
Lyndsey Griffin, MSW, LCSW-C, OSW-C, is a master’s level social worker with over a decade of experience in healthcare and behavioral health. Griffin previously worked as an oncology patient financial navigator, assisting patients with alleviating financial toxicity and other psychosocial/socio-economic barriers to treatment. She is now a clinical social worker at the University of Maryland Capital Region Health’s Breast Program—the first regional cancer center in Prince George’s County, M.D. In this role, Griffin advocates for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer by providing psychosocial support and resources to assist patients throughout their treatment. Her primary passion is how social determinants of health and access to healthcare impact patient outcomes.
Griffin’s speaking topics include financial toxicity, health equity/treatment barriers, and mind/body coping strategies. She earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Master of Social Work in clinical social work and aging from the University of Maryland. She will be entering the University of Maryland School of Public Health in the fall to get her Master of Healthcare Administration.
Arnela Kajdic-Tarantino, CTFC, is a program manager and works as a liaison between revenue cycle, internal contracting, and clinic and patient financial advocates at the Center for Blood Cancer Therapy at St. Luke's Cancer Institute. She has created and implemented training workflows for patient financial advocates specific to CAR-T immunotherapy as well as bone marrow and stem cell transplant. Additionally, Kajdic-Tarantino co-leads the revenue cycle workgroup in initiatives and implementation stages of the CAR-T Program at St. Luke's Cancer Institute.
She has worked in the medical field for 18 years. In her role at a community pharmacy, Kajdic-Tarantino developed a passion to help patients with financial toxicity. She started as a patient financial advocate for one patient receiving bone marrow transplant and, through three short years in oncology, her passion grows as she continues to address patients’ financial toxicity. Kajdic-Tarantino does so while supporting and helping various departments within her organization to understand patients with cancer from all angles (e.g., registration, financial advocacy, prior authorization, in-network contracts, billing), keeping the patient as the common denominator.
Kajdic-Tarantino is a member of ACCC’s Financial Advocacy Network Voice Task Force and has participated in the CANCER BUZZ podcast. She graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in health science and a psychology minor.
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-I, is the Lead Financial Counselor - Oncology, with the Thomas Jefferson University Health System, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. She created and implemented the Oncology Patient Assistance Program that is utilized at the Thomas Jefferson University 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. Angie has worked in healthcare for almost 16 years within patient access, revenue cycle and financial counseling. She has presented on financial toxicity and related topics at patient navigators networking meetings. She is a graduate of the ACCC Financial Advocacy Network Boot Camp.
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 beginning treatment. In 2019, her passion for patient-centered care continued as she developed and implemented a lung cancer screening program at her organization. Simpson 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 ACCC Financial Advocacy Boot Camp and is a board-certified patient advocate.
Laurie Slavin is financial counselor lead for Billings Clinic Cancer Center in Billings, Mont. She started in the cancer center in 2014 as a financial counselor for the radiation oncology team. Currently, Slavin’s team provides authorization support for medical, gynecology, and radiation oncology as well as all non-oncology infusion services. With a growing advocacy team, Salvin and her colleagues can provide additional support and resources to improve interactions with their patients and enhance their financial advocacy services to avoid financial toxicity.
Slavin has a master’s degree in health education and promotion, which has assisted her in creating and implementing an authorization process for the cancer center with less than a seven percent denial rate on the back end.
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, is the director of Supportive and Integrative Programs at Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio. She joined Summa Health in 2010 and transitioned into oncology in 2012 to coordinate the health system’s uninsured mammography program and develop the oncology financial navigation team. 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, White creates a more streamlined and compassionate patient experience for those prior to diagnosis and into survivorship.
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.