Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could help you figure out the next steps in your health care journey? Someone who could answer your questions and help educate you on your options? At Blake Medical Center, there is such a person. Her name is Kelli Thompson Cox, and she is the Valve Institute Nurse Navigator.
Patient care navigators offer support to patients and their families by alleviating barriers to quality health care. They explain tests and procedures, help with questions about diagnoses and treatments, educate patients about types of physicians and cardiac services, and help patients learn about community resources that are available to them. Patient empowerment is a key component of Kelli’s support as she encourages patients to become knowledgable participants in their own care.
We spoke with Kelli to learn a little more about her unique role as a patient care navigator and the special benefits she offers patients.
Q: Describe what your job is like on a typical day.
My job varies from day to day. I have the pleasure of reviewing every echocardiogram that is done at Blake Medical Center. From those reports, I evaluate the results to determine if patients meet the criteria for the valve clinic, which is where we assess patients and make decisions to possibly refer them to the team of expert physicians such as cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, primary care physicians, electro physiologists and nurses. If referred for the valve conference, their case will be discussed amongst those physicians and a recommendation will be made for their plan of care and treatment. Ultimately, it is up to the patient and their physician to decide if they would like to follow these recommendations.
Q: Tell us about the kinds of patients you help each day.
We help patients with a various diagnoses. For the most part, they all have known cardiac conditions, however, sometimes something else brings them in, such as a car accident, or difficulty breathing and we are able to find underlying problems that they didn’t know existed. Most of our patients are admitted into the hospital, however we do have quite a few that are seen on an outpatient basis and follow up with us here at the Heart and Valve Institute. I am proud to say that our medical care team places a sincere emphasis on our community and ensuring that everyone has access to the best possible cardiac care available.
Q. What emotions and problems do your patients have to deal with?
As I mentioned, the patients that we see have various problems that they may be dealing with. It’s easy in this day and age to have multiple decisions and problems to deal with at one time. For some, it may be as easy as whether to have a friend drive them to the doctor or take the bus to an appointment. For others, it may be whether to pay rent or buy their medications this month. In today’s world and economy many of our patients are finding themselves in situations they have never been in before. I think it is important for them to know that they can still rely on Blake Medical Center to be there for them in times of physical need and to know that they will still receive quality, compassionate care no matter what personal circumstances they may be facing. My job as the patient navigator is to educate and empower each patient that comes through our doors with the information they need to make the best decisions for their health looking forward.
Q. Why did you become a patient care navigator?
I became a patient care navigator because I love people and I love taking care of them. I want to help ease the transition of multiple appointments and trying to juggle LIFE in the midst of healthcare. If people need medical care, I want to do everything I can to provide it. It is my goal to help people achieve the highest quality of life that they can have, no matter what health concerns they are facing. I truly want to help their hearts beat stronger, better and more effective. I know that I can’t do that physically, but I can help motivate, educate and provide resources to make that happen.
Q. What is the most difficult part ofyour job?
I find that the most difficult part of my job is the waiting. Waiting for someone to have the procedure that I know will change their life, waiting for the healing to happen so that they can return to normal everyday life.When a patient comes to me for guidance, I become completely invested in their health journey; I wish that we could give them instant gratification with these procedures.
Q. What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that someone can live a little longer, productive, healthy life because of the services that we can provide to them. Knowing that they can be a part of their grandchildren’s lives a little longer, or they can give away their daughter at her wedding. It makes my heart happy knowing that the patients feel better when they leave our office than they did when they arrived.
Kelli Thompson Cox, RN
Valve Clinic Coordinator
Heart & Valve Institute
Blake Medical Center
2020 59th St West
Bradenton, Florida 34209