The Personalized Touch of a Patient Care Coordinator

Having surgery can be an overwhelming and frightening process. Often, you will see many different staff members before, during, and after your hospital stay. You may have dozens of conversations, be given pre-operative and post-operative instructions, and be asked to make various decisions. For those who have made their careers outside the healthcare field, the phrases, acronyms, and jargon can sound like another language altogether.

Many hospitals understand the intricate process and have decided to do something about it. A growing trend among hospitals is employing a patient care coordinator (also called a nurse navigator). This person is a dedicated staff member who has a medical background but is devoted to helping patients walk through the surgical process and acts as a single point of contact for questions, referrals, and resources.

“My job is to make people feel at ease about the hospital and the surgical experience,” explains Kate Norton, RN, the patient care coordinator at HealthONE’s Centennial Hospital. “I help them understand what to expect and make a relationship with them so they can feel comfortable.”

Kate explains that her role begins before patients even get to the hospital. Up to two weeks before surgery, she calls her patients to review any questions, provides instructions, offers education and resources, and generally puts them at ease. On the day of surgery, she is often the first person to greet the patient and their loved ones, meet them at the door and walk them to registration, and even provide a personalized introduction to her colleagues in the registration department. She then has the opportunity to walk the patient to pre-op and hand them off to the pre-op team.

“One of the nice things about working in a smaller hospital like HealthONE’s Centennial Hospital is that we work with the same people day in and day out,” Kate details. “I have the opportunity to personalize the experience—I can introduce my patients to my colleagues and make sure that they get handed off appropriately.”

During patients’ procedures, she stays in touch with the family members and makes herself available to them during the waiting process. After surgery, Kate may check in with the patient and family and remains available to patients after discharge for questions about resources, education, and referrals.

“As a full-service hospital with 20 inpatient beds, patients at Centennial get to experience a higher level of service without compromising quality,” Kate explains. “The leadership here is truly hands-on, and every colleague is empowered to provide patients with the very best.”

To learn more about surgical care at Centennial Hospital, visit To find a physician, call 303-575-0055.

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