Coordinated Care Eases Heart & Cancer Treatments

Melissa Hogan

Melissa Hogan, RN, remembers being in junior high school when her grandmother needed urgent coronary artery bypass surgery. She remembers how ill her grandmother felt and how she and her family felt overwhelmed, anxious and fearful — with no one to turn to for answers or reassurance. Now, as the Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery Nurse Navigator at Concord Hospital Center for Cardiac Care, Hogan works to make sure other cardiac patients don’t have that experience.

“I use my family’s experience to really guide me in how I practice,” she said. “I strive to make that personal connection, so people know they are not alone going through this, who their resource is, and that they should never be afraid to call with questions or concerns.”

Hogan often meets patients soon after they learn they need heart surgery. It can be a frightening time, which is why her bright smile, personal family experience, and patience are so important.

“Sometimes it’s the part of my job that I like the most,” said Hogan. “These patients are terrified and sometimes they just want someone to recognize that, and take the time to address those fears.”

The detailed information Hogan provides about diagnosis and treatment often is enough to help calm a patient’s fears.

“My goal is that they leave me feeling just a little bit more at ease,” she said. “I know they are still nervous, but maybe a little less afraid than when they came in.”

Patients have called her their tour guide through surgery and recovery. She is their primary contact, educating patients and their loved ones about heart or lung surgery, helping schedule appointments, checking in while they are in the Hospital and afterward, and helping with transitions for future care.

“People want that one ‘go-to’ person who knows them and who they can count on to communicate things and circle back to them,” she said.

When Hogan came to the Center for Cardiac Care, she immediately noticed the entire team — from the scheduler and physician’s assistants to the surgeons and nurses in the patient care units — focused on recognizing each patient as an individual. To her, that illustrates that caring for their patients involves more than medical procedures.

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