When a patient wasn't attending his scheduled appointments, oncology nurse navigator Jennifer Polo, BSN, RN, OCN, found a creative solution to get him back on track.When a patient wasn’t attending his scheduled appointments at Pennsylvania Hospital, oncology nurse navigator Jennifer Polo, BSN, RN, OCN, and her team had to think creatively to get him back on track.

Polo, who received the referral, consulted with a social worker on her team to speak with the patient about why he was missing his visits. In conversation with the social worker, the patient felt comfortable disclosing he had an inability to read and could not understand his appointment schedule.

As a nurse navigator, Polo’s mission is to help patients navigate the health care system to get the care they need as quickly as possible, which includes helping them with challenges, like health literacy, that could prevent them from accessing care. 

To help the patient stay on top of his scheduled visits, Polo and her team developed a visual calendar with colorful icons representing different appointments, such as a heart icon to signify a cardiologist appointment. The calendar also included headshots of herself and the social worker with their contact information.

“The patient was very grateful,” said Polo. “He began to show up more regularly for appointments.”

This creative solution to a patient’s care plan earned Polo a Daisy Award in May. She credited and thanked her colleagues when accepting the award. “This is the kind of thing our team does all the time in terms of coming up with ideas to help people overcome the barriers they encounter,” said Polo. “This is a hallmark of our team’s collaboration to make health care easier and accessible for everyone.”

At Penn Medicine, we all aspire to be difference makers who represent the Penn Medicine Experience (PMX) in action.

Every day, our Penn Medicine colleagues are making a difference in the lives of patients, families, and oneanother. From information services to environmental services and all roles in between, every staff member plays a part in delivering the best possible Penn Medicine experience. Do you have a colleague you’d like to spotlight as a difference maker? Email EmployeeStories@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.

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