Steve Cash, BSN, RN became the Department of Neurology’s first nurse navigator in January, but he’s far from new to the department.
He previously worked as one of the senior secretaries in the epilepsy division, beginning in 2015. During that period, Cash also attended nursing school at nights and on the weekends. Upon graduation, he went to work as a perioperative nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“I enjoyed my experience in the OR and learned a lot, but I realized the outpatient setting is really where I’m happiest and can give the best care to our patients,” Cash says. After six months, he transitioned back to the epilepsy division, this time as a nurse. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to the newly created nurse navigator position.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cash’s responsibilities entailed acting as a clinical resource for the Access Center and new-patient coordinators when they had questions about scheduling new patients.
“If the symptoms aren’t exactly clear-cut or if the patient has a lot going on, I’ll research further and collaborate with our physicians as needed to ensure the patient is scheduled with the right provider, within the right time-frame, and at the right location,” he says.
Cash also has been involved in the planning of new ways to improve patient access, including building a scheduling tree in EPIC to reduce confusion for the Access Center when scheduling and creating work queues in EPIC for the new-patient coordinators so they aren’t getting requests from so many different sources.
Another central aspect of his role is maintaining the proper patient flow into and out of the department, particularly as it relates to the affiliate neurology providers who refer patients. “I’m helping to make sure we get those patients scheduled in a timely manner and then closing the loop with their referring providers once they’ve been seen,” he says.
Cash also collaborates with Penn’s social workers on the Bridge Program, which ensures that patients discharged from the hospital aren’t lost to outpatient follow-up.
“Knowing that I was able to help alleviate a patient’s anxiety or stress and improve their life gives me great personal and professional satisfaction,” he says. “And it’s what makes me happy and proud to be a nurse.”