Imagine an old-fashioned telephone operator working at a switchboard, moving quickly and carefully behind the scenes to connect callers with the people they need to reach. In a similar but more high-tech role, Sean Smith, RN, BSN, works behind the scenes to improve communication and update processes for transferring patient records to ensure that everything goes smoothly for patients during their care at Roswell Park and within the Roswell Park Care Network.
Smith is the new Oncology Nurse Coordinator - Affiliates for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Care Network. “Our Care Network is growing rapidly," he says. "We have multiple locations throughout the state where patients can receive standardized, high-quality oncology care closer to their homes.
"However, at times it is critical that a patient is referred to the main Roswell Park campus in downtown Buffalo to receive specialized oncology care and treatment. For those patients, who are traveling from hours away to receive care at our main campus, having a specific individual in place to coordinate appointments, initiate contact, answer questions, follow up after discharge, and be available and accessible — that's important for the success of the network.”
Ensuring a smoother experience during treatment
Roswell Park has other nurse coordinators throughout the center who guide patients through their treatment and answer questions along the way. But Smith, an experienced travel nurse, is the first person to serve in that capacity as a coordinator.
“I’m not assigned to a specific disease," he explains. "My objective is to facilitate communication to ensure that each patient’s needs are understood and met. Because this is a newly created position, my responsibilities and the ways in which I can be most of service to our patients and the organization will evolve over time. It’s different every day, and each problem that arises will require a different set of solutions and steps to navigate. It’s exciting, and I’m happy to have this opportunity.”
As with most staff members at Roswell Park, the end goal of Smith’s job is to ensure that patients have a smoother experience during treatment. “The benefit to the patient will be felt through a seamless experience of care in an efficient process. We want our patients' experience to be consistent, no matter where they are or how they have contact with the Roswell Park Care Network.”
Roswell Park Care Network
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Keeping the patient and care team on the same page
Smith might be new to this role, but he’s not new to Roswell Park. Born and raised in Buffalo, he attended D’Youville College. His first experience with Roswell Park came as a summer nurse intern.
“During that summer, I got to experience firsthand the Roswell Park difference, how the people here — the employees, the volunteers, everyone — care just that much more and are willing to go above and beyond to provide that tailored experience, that easy, familiar, efficient sense of care. I knew once I graduated that Roswell Park was where I wanted to be.”
The following summer, after he graduated, Roswell Park hired Smith as a critical care registered nurse. He spent the first two years of his career in that role.
A shared commitment to providing the best care for patients carries over to developing the most efficient and comprehensive communication system to keep doctors, nurses and the patient’s entire care team on the same page, regardless of where the patient is seen, Smith says.
“Everyone here has the same goal of trying to help, and working for a greater purpose. The fact that I’m here is proof that we’re working to improve the system, to get people in place to identify the weak points and improve things for the benefit of our patients.”