Nurse Navigator Susan Saporito of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center: ‘Put People First’
By Matt Rappa
As an Oncology Nurse Navigator at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township, Susan Saporito, RN, BSN, OCN, plays an important role in helping South Jersey patients with cancer “navigate” their way through an often-complex healthcare process — before, during and after treatment. From coordinating screening and treatment appointments, to providing support and education, the oncology navigation team is a “go-to” resource for patients and families.
“We work to remove barriers to receiving the right care at the right time,” Saporito said. “We can assist with everything from transportation, to financial, educational and emotional support.”
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is an “overwhelming experience,” Sue said, adding that “navigators become a consistent ‘point person’ during patients’ cancer journey.”
They can even be of help to someone like Jacqui McClintock, a Jefferson Stratford Hospital Physical Therapist and self-described cancer “previvor” – someone with a genetic predisposition who hasn’t had the disease. Jacqui, who has a BRCA1 gene mutation, which is linked to an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer, was assisting a relative who might have the same genetic condition … and who had just learned of an abnormal mammogram. Jacqui reached out to Sue for guidance.
“I explained that I had already undergone preventive surgery to decrease my cancer risk, and was now focused on helping my family member,” Jacqui recalled. “Sue answered all my questions and was professional, compassionate, and very easy to talk to.”
When Jacqui’s relative later directly contacted Sue, she, too, was impressed by the level of caring. Sue quickly coordinated appointments for Jacqui’s family member to see a Jefferson Health – New Jersey breast surgeon and a genetic counselor, both on the same day. “This was a great relief after the lengthy amount of time [my relative] spent trying to navigate the process on her own,” Jacqui recalled.
Because of her efforts, Saporito has been nominated for the health system’s DAISY Award, part of an international program that recognizes “above and beyond” nursing care.
“We are very fortunate to have a nurse of such high caliber as Sue on our care team,” said Michele E. Gaguski, MSN, RN, AOCN, CHPN, NE-BC, APN-C, Cancer Services Administrator at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township. “Sue truly lives the Jefferson Health motto of ‘putting people first.’”
Sue — herself a cancer survivor — has simple, but meaningful advice for any patient dealing with the anxiety that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis: “Go forward by taking it one test, one biopsy and one treatment at a time,” she says, adding that patients should become an “active participant” in their own care: “Ask for help, information, and support for you and your family. You are not alone: your care team is with you each step of the way.”