Nurse in Hallway

Expanding SMH’s Oncology Nurse Navigation Program

Impact Stories


Getting diagnosed with cancer can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. Thanks to a $680,540 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota  Memorial has expanded its Oncology Nurse Navigation program. To date, more than $800,000 in grants have been allocated to support patient navigation at the Sarasota Memorial Cancer Institute.

Sarasota Memorial now has six highly trained oncology nurse navigators who guide and advocate for cancer patients from diagnosis through survivorship. Oncology nurse navigators have many roles. They help patients understand the results of their diagnostic tests and treatments available to them. They facilitate communication between patients and their healthcare team. And they help eliminate any potential barriers to care – which may include securing transportation, finding health insurance coverage, and locating necessary support services within the community.

Tammy (Tedsen) Simon, RN, BSN (Hons), OCN, ONN-CG, TTS, Thoracic Oncology Nurse Navigator, works to eliminate barriers that stand in the way of her patients’ care. When she first meets with a patient, she presents them with a folder packed with information about their type of lung cancer, with specific additional information based on their unique needs. She says, “Sometimes patients just need someone to tell them it’s OK, that what they’re feeling is normal.”

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Tammy Simon, RN

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Veronica Martinez, RN

After a patient undergoes a breast biopsy, Veronica Martinez, RN, MSN, OCN, ONN-CG, Breast Oncology Nurse Navigator, calls to discuss the results. She listens to their concerns and explains any information that’s unclear. Then  she offers advice on how to talk to their surgeon. She also informs patients about Sarasota Memorial’s Thrive program, which offers wellness and support services, and she facilitates a monthly Woman-to-Woman Breast Cancer Support Group. Veronica says, “For my patients, the most common barrier is emotional distress. A lot of times they just need clarification.”

Kristi Stetson, RN, BSN, OCN, ONN-CG, Gastrointestinal Oncology Nurse Navigator, guides her patients throughout the continuum of care – from diagnosis through survivorship. She provides disease-specific information that empowers her patients to make critical decisions about their treatment, and helps remove any obstacles to their care. Being proactive in addressing symptom management ensures that patients have an idea of what to expect along the way. Kristi says, “I feel blessed to have the skills, knowledge and experience to be able to give back and help people  during this time.”

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Kristi Stetson, RN

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