I FIRST MET JEANNINE ARIAS, RN, in 1985 when we started working in the ICU at Morris Hospital, a small community hospital in Morris, Illinois. She was fresh out of her nursing program and much like a sponge, wanting to soak in every piece of knowledge afforded to her at the small hospital. However, I knew she was destined for something far greater than what this small hospital could offer her, and two years later, we both left for Chicago where she flourished in the nursing arena. Ultimately, our career paths diverged in 1990 when I was commissioned in the Air Force, but we still kept in touch
through the years.
JEANNINE FURTHERED her education as a master’s-prepared professional nurse and flourished with over 28 years of hospital experience, including leadership roles in administration, oncology, emergency and critical care nursing. As a visionary leader with a passion for advancement of the nursing profession and a talent for empowering collaborative efforts in program growth, while being responsive to customer satisfaction coupled with alignment to drive the best practices and patient outcomes, she has been the associate clinical director of oncology and navigational services since April 2012 at Adventist Midwest Health in Illinois. Since being a vital entity of this four-hospital region, Jeannine has written and secured grants of $332,000 for prehabilitation to provide services at the time of diagnosis for high-risk cancer patients; $25,000 for colon cancer screening and prevention in DuPage County; and an ongoing Open Arms Fund for breast cancer screening and prevention. Furthermore, she has published three articles on breast cancer in the Journal of Oncology Navigation and Survivorship. This woman is phenomenal with her benevolence to promote the best health care access to uninsured and underinsured patients in DuPage County, while ensuring the patients have up-to-date information and securing additional resources as the situation dictates.
Jeannine Arias, RN, MSN, AOCNS
She never stops visualizing how to improve the outcomes of cancer patients. Jeannine is at the forefront of the new Adventist Cancer Institute, a state-of-the-art 54,000 square foot cancer center showcasing the regional interdisciplinary oncology services to better meet the patients’ needs. She was key to the development of the navigation program from the ground up, introduced six new programs and contributed to the increase, in two years, from 9 percent nurse certification to 87 percent for nursing magnet and breast/oncology accreditation.
Through these endeavors, she has positively promoted the physicians’ perception for the need of a navigation program on behalf of their patients. In addition to these accomplishments, Jeannine presented Adventist Cancer Institute’s navigational outcomes to the Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators conference the past two years. Finally, she was invited as a member of the National Consortium of Breast Centers task force to assist in the development of national navigation exams and build the national navigation conference center agendas.
I could write volumes of what this woman has forged in the field of being an extraordinary healer, but that is not the reason I am submitting her nomination. I am a grateful one-year survivor of stage 4A oropharyngeal cancer. Having gone through the ordeal of first hearing the words “positive for squamous cell cancer” to “no metabolic activity noted” on the PET scan after 35 doses of IMRT, 3 rounds of cisplatin and a few setbacks along the way, that year after being diagnosed was a total blur.
I had excellent health care providers where I received treatment from the receptionist to the social worker and all the other partners along the way. My caregivers were with me every minute during this most difficult period. Because of them, I am here today to submit this. However, my treatment center does not have a navigational program in place. I knew what I was to accomplish during the treatment phase, but post-treatment, I was unaware of what would happen next.
Through CURE, I learned the concept of a navigation program and follow-up, developing my own through researching my disease process and finding a support group. I wish I had been a part of
Jeannine’s program; I might not have felt so alone.
It is the navigation program that is crucial for the survivors and their caregivers and families to get back to some type of normalcy after hearing those dreadful words of being diagnosed with cancer. I know that, without a doubt, Jeannine’s integral day-to-day involvement at the new Adventist Cancer Institute will do just that for the patients and their families in DuPage County. She is an amazing leader, yet still keeps her finger on the pulse of caring. Jeannine is that extraordinary healer!