Patients and visitors who walk into any of the Adventist Health hospitals in the Pacific Northwest are greeted with warm, friendly smiles. But there are some patients who arrive in the early morning hours who are greeted not just with a helpful smile, but by the face of a friend.

“I tell people that I’m part educator, part grandma and part boot camp sergeant,” jokes Renee Novak, an orthopedic nurse navigator at Aspire Orthopedic Institute in Portland, Ore. Except she’s not really joking.

Nurse navigators are a helping hand, a communication hub, an expert clinical resource and a friend to lean on. You might even call them personal guardian angels. They provide education and proactive assistance to guide patients through every step of their medical care and recovery. Nurse navigators also know the very first step is often addressing the emotional needs of the patient — many times even before the patient is a patient. Novak frequently chats with individuals who need a joint replacement but haven’t committed to the procedure.

Read more about our nurse navigators on the GleanerNow website.