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Nurse Navigator – A Patient’s Special Advocate

Yolanda
Lead Nurse Navigator - Coordinator
Yolanda Evans MSN, MBA, RN

A friendly voice offering understanding, encouragement and helpful information awaits those who contact the Memorial Hermann Joint Center.

“When patients call us, they want relief from their pain,” explains Yolanda Evans, MSN, MBA, RN, Lead Nurse Navigator-Coordinator for the Memorial Hermann Joint Center. “I am the first point of contact when someone calls for information, and I help them determine if he or she is a good candidate for joint replacement. I am happy to answer any questions they have and help them navigate the process.”

The first step is to see a physician for a consultation, and Evans suggests patients select the Memorial Hermann location that is most convenient for them.

If an individual experiences joint pain, Evans recommends looking at the helpful information on the website. “The website has excellent information and an easy-to-understand video. The individual can send an email to me directly with their questions,” she says.

A former operating room nurse who has held various nursing leadership positions, Evans brings extensive clinical knowledge to her role. She understands how important it is for patients to trust that there is someone available who cares and who can provide answers to questions. “By equipping patients with education to make informed decisions, we can minimize fear about joint replacement.”

“My role is an example of the personalized touch Memorial Hermann Joint Center offers,” Evans explains. “We want to make the process easy by providing a high quality of care coordination, education and support.” She describes Memorial Hermann Joint Center’s “individualized patient-centered care as an innovative approach where the patient is at the center of what we do. We provide a continuity of care, with the highest standards, and our patients are active participants in their treatment and recovery.”

We care about our patients

“We understand that joint pain is usually a progressive and chronic condition that has been ongoing for at least six months,” she notes. “Chronic pain can lead to depression if an individual can’t participate in the hobbies they love or even in their daily activities. When patients call us, they want relief from their pain and we want to help them find that relief. We want our patients to understand there are options to consider and we want them to know they are being cared for the entire time, from the very first point of contact, to surgery, to postsurgical care and back home.”

If the physician recommends joint replacement surgery, campus-based Nurse Navigators, who are registered nurses specializing in joint care, become the patient’s personal coordinator of care and special advocate. The Nurse Navigator is available by telephone and email to answer any questions, both before and after the surgery.

This special Nurse Navigator works directly with the patient and their family, the surgeon and the entire multidisciplinary care team to make sure the patient receives the best possible experience, from coordinating the preadmission testing until the happy point when the patient returns home after surgery.

Patients gain renewed zest for life

Grandma-Granddaughter

Most patients are out of bed a few hours after joint replacement surgery and they soon see how their quality of life is restored. “Patients thrive when they can again enjoy what they love to do,” Evans says, “and I love seeing their zest for life return. Even simple things like putting on shoes and socks feel like an accomplishment.”

Evans appreciates the “personal and professional satisfaction we all receive knowing our education, training and specialized skill set contribute to someone’s renewed quality of life and a return to wellness.”

It is a collaborative effort among the entire multidisciplinary care team, she adds, “including our Nurse Navigators, the nursing staff, affiliated medical staff, physical and occupational therapy staff, and our other allied healthcare professionals. We all work together to give our patients the best possible outcome and help free them from pain.”

Preparing for the journey to recovery

In addition to the Lead Nurse Navigator and the campus-based Nurse Navigators, the care team at the Memorial Hermann Joint Center provides many helpful resources that offer advantages to joint replacement patients. For example, a preoperative education class, led by a Nurse Navigator, helps patients understand what to expect during the joint replacement process and offers helpful tips to ensure the best outcome.

Patients are encouraged to do preoperative exercises, designed by Memorial Hermann Joint Center physical therapists, to strengthen muscles and improve mobility. Also, the care team encourages a family member or friend to serve as the patient’s coach to offer support and encouragement throughout the process.

Memorial Hermann Joint Centers are conveniently located throughout the Greater Houston area: Bellaire, Greater Heights, Katy, Memorial City, Southeast, Southwest, Sugar Land and The Woodlands.

To learn more, call (713) 272-1888.