• Oncology Nurse Navigators

  • Hearing the words "you have cancer" is a very overwhelming time in the life of any patient and family dealing with this complex and difficult disease. Cancer care can be very confusing in that multiple health care providers are involved from the screening process, to diagnosis, testing, treatment, and survivorship. Penrose Cancer Center has established a nurse navigator program to assist patients and families with this journey.

    An oncology nurse navigator (ONN) is a professional registered nurse with oncology-specific clinical knowledge who offers assistance to patients, families, and caregivers to help overcome healthcare system barriers. An ONN also provides education and resources to facilitate informed decision making and timely access to quality health and psychosocial care throughout all phases of the cancer continuum.

    Research has shown that when nurse navigators become involved early enough after a person has received a cancer diagnosis, they can help steer patients and their families to appropriate care and timely treatment that could dramatically improve patients' chances of living with cancer as a manageable disease.

    Penrose Cancer Center currently offers the following oncology nurse navigation support:

  • LoriWeb.jpgLori Dagostino, RN, BSN, OCN, joined the nurse navigator team in May 2011.  As a malignant heme nurse navigator, Lori specializes in providing education and support to patients with lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and other blood cancers.

    As a registered nurse with more than a decade of experience in hematology, oncology and bone marrow/stem cell transplantation, the role of nurse navigator was a natural fit.  It is a combination of the meaningful relationships one can build with patients and families and the advancements in medical science, that keep Lori in oncology nursing.  As a nurse navigator, Lori is given the opportunity to apply the holistic, patient-centered care in which nursing is rooted. 

    In 1997, Lori earned her B.S.N. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.  Lori also holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College.  She is a long-standing member of the Oncology Nursing Society and an active member of her local chapter, the Pikes Peak Oncology Nursing Society.

    Lori and her husband, along with their young son, enjoy spending time in Colorado’s beautiful outdoors.  Lori enjoys reading, cooking, and entertaining friends and family.
    Helen GercasHelen Gercas, RN, OCN, has been an oncology nurse for 34 years.  Helen earned her diploma in nursing from Evangelical School of Nursing, Oak Lawn, IL.

    Helen began her nursing career working in inpatient oncology/bone marrow transplant units at Rush University and Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago, IL. She has worked as a home health and hospice nurse,  and also has years of experience in outpatient oncology clinics.

    Helen has been fortunate to have lived and worked in Hawaii, Virginia and Florida.  She came to Penrose in 2001 as a traveler nurse for a 3 month assignment on the oncology unit.  That assignment turned into a permanent move for 6 1/2 years.  Helen returned to Penrose in October 2012 as the Head and Neck Nurse Navigator.

    Helen is extremely proud of her 2 nieces (both living in the Chicago area) and enjoys hiking, skiing and calls herself a “runner wannabe” having completed 5 marathons (2 of which were fundraisers for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society Team in Training).
    SharonWeb.jpgSharon is an almost Colorado native living here since she was 6-years-old. She obtained her BSN from Beth-El School of Nursing at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Her first job in nursing was here at Penrose on the inpatient oncology unit where she worked for 8 years. She joined the Penrose Cancer Center staff in August 2009 where she has the privilege of helping women with breast cancer navigate the complex medical system during their treatment. Sharon is an oncology certified nurse as well as a certified breast care nurse. She participates in the monthly support group for breast cancer patients and enjoys scuba diving and hiking in her spare time.
    Teresa Labovich, RN, BSN, MSN, has been an oncology nurse for 25 years. Teresa earned her diploma in nursing from St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York City; her BSN from Pace University, New York; and her Master’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  Teresa is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist.

    Teresa came to Penrose Cancer Center with experience from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute as well as Georgetown and Johns Hopkins.  She has worked in many areas of Oncology including Medical Oncology, Research, Surgical Intensive Care, Hematology, GYN Oncology and Pediatric Oncology. 

    Teresa has published several articles in various professional nursing journals, has spoken at both local and national Oncology Nursing Conferences as well as presented research at the national Association of Critical Care Nurses annual conference. She has also contributed to the Oncology Nursing Forum as an associate editor for the last 15 years. Teresa has been an active participant in the local and national Oncology Nursing Society throughout her career.

    In her spare time, Teresa enjoys hiking, skiing, biking and cooking with her husband and three children. She also loves to travel and certainly had many opportunities while stationed overseas for 10 years with her husband who is a physician in the Army.
    Patty OConnelAs the Thoracic Patient Navigator, Patty is the point of contact in the Pulmonary Nodule Clinic. She obtains any necessary diagnostic studies and is responsible for ongoing communication and coordination of patients. She provides education to the patients and family throughout the continuum of care. Patty is a certified oncology nurse.
    Elly PetersElly Peters has been an oncology nurse for 14 years. She has been certified in oncology nursing (OCN) since 2001 and has her masters in nursing with an emphasis in chronic illness and education. Her nursing experience includes psychiatric nursing, inpatient oncology, teaching as adjunct faculty at the University of Northern Colorado, working as a clinical nurse specialist in the inpatient and outpatient setting, and most recently, as a survivorship nurse navigator, with an emphasis on the needs of patients after cancer treatment is complete.

    Elly has been on the Weld County Relay for Life Board and has participated in Team In Training, running a half marathon to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her current role as breast oncology nurse navigator includes supporting women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, helping them navigate the complex medical system during work-up, throughout treatment, and into post-treatment care. Elly also facilitates the C.L.I.M.B. (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) Program and the Annual Creative Art Retreat. 

    In her free time, Elly enjoys hiking in the summer and snow-skiing in the winter with her husband and two boys. She also enjoys cooking and trying new healthy recipes.
    Jim PriceJim Price, RN, was born and raised an Army Brat, this provided him the opportunity to live and grow up throughout much of the United States and Europe. He attended theUniversity of South Carolina, graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and then again in 1988 with a degree in Nursing. Relocating to Colorado Springs in 1996, this is to-date his longest place of residence. Jim came to Penrose Hospital in 2004 and joined the Radiation Oncology Team in 2008. Most of his more than 20 years of nursing experience has been in Oncology, working in both Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient settings.
    PeggyWeb.jpgPeggy Thomas, RN, MN, AOCN, is the outreach Oncology Nurse Navigator for the Penrose Cancer Center.  Peggy educates interested individuals/groups about several different types of cancer, cancer prevention interventions and the importance of early detection through routine cancer screening. 

    After graduating from Beth-El Nursing School in 1978, Peggy has had an enjoyable nursing career working in surgery, orthopedics, research, oncology and nurse navigation. 

    Peggy is also the Nurse Navigator for the Women's Wellness Program which provides free breast and cervical screening for eligible women.

    In her free time she loves spending time with her family, friends and dog. Her sister calls Peggy crazy because she enjoys working out. Peggy’s spiritual growth is very important to her, for this reason she a member of the Benet Hill Monastery.
    WilliamsWeb.jpgPam Williams, RN, OCN is the Thoracic Nurse Navigator for Penrose Cancer Center. She has been an oncology nurse for her entire career of more than 21 years. She worked at the University of Colorado for six years before relocating to the Springs. She has been with Penrose Hospital since June 1999 and Penrose Cancer Center since June 2003.

    Pam understands that the diagnosis of cancer is a life changing event.  It has been her passion as an oncology nurse to support both the patient and their family through the entire process of that journey.  As a nurse navigator she hopes to provide the patient and their family with additional support and education, and to interface with the patient’s entire medical team to provide seamless care. 

    Pam enjoys the Colorado outdoors with her husband and two children. She loves mountain biking and hiking in the summer and snowshoeing and skiing in the winter.
  • Penrose Cancer Center - Dr. Toni Green-Cheatwood & Navigation

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