The Patient Navigator program at Gila Regional started in 2009 under the UNA Amiga Grant and later transitioned fully to Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC) in 2011. Since the beginning, Rachel Benavidez has been helping cancer patients navigate through the cancer care process. With the change to the University of New Mexico (UNM) Comprehensive Cancer Center as the cancer care providers for the GRMC Cancer Center, Rachel is thinking only of the patients.
"Change is hard but the patients are my main focus and I think we are going to be okay working with UNM," said Rachel. "We are all committed to helping our patients get better and make this transition as easy as possible for them."
Rachel is a cancer survivor which helps her to identify with what the patients are going through when they face a cancer diagnosis and all the questions and fears that come with it. This empathy assists her as a Patient Navigator to guide cancer patients through the challenges and barriers that they may face during this difficult time.
"I am here to help our patients in any way possible," added Mrs. Benavidez.
The contract with UNM was signed on Monday, July 17, 2017 and three oncologists are in the process of being credentialed to cover patient care once a week at the Cancer Center. This is only temporary until a full time oncologist can be put in place to cover services Monday through Friday.
"Rachel has been a critical team member at the Cancer Center for years," said Taffy Arias, Chief Executive Officer of GRMC. "I am honored to have her insight and knowledge of the cancer care process to help our patients get the resources they need. Having a diagnosis of cancer can be very overwhelming, but Rachel has a passion to be the patient's guide and make this journey as easy as possible for them."
Photo Caption: Rachel Benavidez, Patient Navigator at the Gila Regional Cancer Center