San Francisco General Hospital/San Francisco Department of Public Health  

BCCS Navigation teamIn 1997 the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) implemented the Breast and Cervical Cancer Services (BCCS) program to provide information and education about breast and cervical cancer services to women in San Francisco. A unique component of BCCS was the ‘patient navigation’ program that employed health workers as 'lay' patient navigators, specially trained to provide extra support that patients and family members may need. At the time, the BCCS program was one of a kind, and is a model for other communities. From neighborhood Town Hall meetings to the clinics at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and even at the SF City and County Jails, the navigators have met with women facing breast cancer in various settings, including in their homes. Dedicated to promoting a continuum of care and addressing the individual needs of women accessing care at SFGH, the program has evolved into one of highly effective navigation and case management for patients receiving cancer care at SFGH.

Currently, the BCCS patient navigators provide language interpretation, guidance in handling the bureaucracy and referrals and follow up for food, physical therapy, housing, support groups and emergency funds. They provide an atmosphere of warmth, understanding and caring in the midst of great change and challenge. The navigator serves as an ‘invisible net’ that helps eliminate barriers to care and provides ease of access to essential resources including the medical team, social workers and community based organizations. Five of these pioneering women - Barbara Cicerelli, MPH, Director of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Services and navigators, Liz Castillo, Dora Cotrim, Shirley Tan and Esther Thach - make a difference every day in the lives of patients, women and men. Appreciative breast cancer patients credit these navigators’ knowledge, patience, problem solving skills and steadfast direction with “making it all happen” so that the patient can focus on treatment and recovery. Zero Breast Cancer is pleased to recognize these incredible patient navigators and the SFGH Breast and Cervical Cancer Services with the 2015 Healing Partner award.

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