Heather Santone Talks Barriers to Cancer Care in Older Populations


Heather Santone breaks down some of the barriers that geriatric patients with cancer face—and how nurse navigators can help them overcome these obstacles.

In this episode of The Vitals, Heather Santone, an oncology nurse navigator with Allegheny Health Network, shares which unique challenges nurse navigators face when caring for geriatric patients. She points out that many of these patients have difficulty securing transportation to and from their appointments, or struggle to navigate online applications or internet services. Luckily, nurse navigators can play a large role in helping patients overcome these obstacles and ensuring that patients do not fall through the system’s cracks.

Episode Highlights

"I live in Erie; we are a smaller city. A lot of our testing has to be done in Pittsburgh." Time stamp (TS) 5:56

"Transportation is a large barrier to care for older people because [oftentimes] they have stopped driving, and they may not have the transportation." TS 7:28

"Technology is huge, because a lot of our services, like American Cancer Society’s great Road-to-Recovery program, is on an App—they give us [a 1-800] number so we can call in, but a lot of things, like Lyft goes back to an app or a computer system." TS 7:37

"The nice thing about navigation is the that we are there to help prevent the gaps. For the most part, we do a really good job of keeping those gaps very small, to make sure we are trying to follow [patients] all the way through treatment so that they are not lost.” TS 10:07

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