LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — According to a press release, the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is implementing a new statewide patient navigation program to help cancer patients across the state access needed prevention, screening, treatment and support services.

The program serves all Arkansans regardless of provider.

“We know advances in cancer treatment may not reach underserved communities, especially in low socioeconomic areas and among racial and ethnic minorities,” said Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “Cancer navigation is critical to improve access to cancer prevention and care.”

For Cancer Institute Director and UAMS Vice Chancellor Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., cancer navigation is a moral imperative. “All Arkansans deserve access to state-of-the-art cancer screening regardless of economic or geographic differences. In addition, every Arkansan should have access to the best possible treatment including the new and novel cellular therapy and potentially lifesaving clinical trials,” he said.

The cancer navigation program currently consists of a nine-member team of nurse navigators and locally placed community health experts who provide a broad range of support, including:

  • Appointment scheduling for screenings, tests, follow-up visits and other physician recommended care
  • Health education
  • Patient and caregiver navigation to social support services
  • Clinical trial access 

Patient navigators and their locations are:

  • Misty Bridger, Jonesboro
  • Santrice Kearney, Pine Bluff
  • Carline Massey, Texarkana
  • Robin Thrower, Magnolia
  • Luzanna Tubb, Fayetteville
  • Ryan Williams, Little Rock
  • Elizabeth Rodriguez, Batesville

Christina McSperritt and Alisha Howell serve as nurse navigators, helping patients through the treatment process by connecting them to resources and information to make informed decisions.

To connect with a navigator, patients may call 1-855-569-3691 or email COE@uams.edu. A physician referral is not required. The program is informed by a 15-member Community Advisory Board consisting of cancer survivors, caregivers, doctors, nurses and community leaders.