A Champion for Compassionate Cancer Care and and Excellence

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Article
Extraordinary Healer®Extraordinary Healer Vol. 18
Volume 18

Under her exceptional leadership in oncology navigation, the impact on patient outcomes has been nothing short of transformative.

From left: KATHERINE FROMM, M.S.W., B.S.N., RN, OCN, and DR. CARDINALE B. SMITH   PHOTOS BY BEN HIDER

From left: KATHERINE FROMM, M.S.W., B.S.N., RN, OCN, and DR. CARDINALE B. SMITH

PHOTOS BY BEN HIDER

I am honored to nominate Katherine Fromm, B.S.N., M.S.W., RN, OCN, or as we affectionately call her, Katie, for the CURE Extraordinary Healer Award. Katie is the clinical nurse manager for oncology navigation at the Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai, and I have had the privilege of knowing her for over 15 years, first meeting when I was an oncology fellow, and she was an infusion nurse in our fellows’ clinic.

By way of introduction, I am a professor in the Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology and Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; chief medical officer for the Tisch Cancer Hospital; chief quality officer for the Mount Sinai Health System; and vice president of Cancer Clinical Affairs for the Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai. In her over 20 years in oncology nursing, Katie has demonstrated outstanding compassion, expertise and selflessness in ensuring patients receive high-quality, equitable care.

Before becoming a nurse, Katie had a passion for helping underserved communities, which blossomed during her Master of Social Work program at Columbia University. She worked as an oncology social worker for several years. However, Katie sought to provide more comprehensive care and became a registered nurse, leveraging both skill sets to address patients’ medical, emotional and socioeconomic needs, a path that would bring her to her current role leading oncology patient navigation for our health system.

I first met Katie 15 years ago as a young infusion nurse in our oncology fellows’ clinic — an under-resourced practice in New York City largely serving patients with Medicaid and those who were uninsured. Even during those early days, Katie demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to her patients.

Katie quickly became the heart of our clinic, staying late to complete disability applications so patients could access lifesaving or life-prolonging treatments. She assisted with transportation, child care, disability, housing issues and more so patients could continue chemotherapy. Katie provided in-depth teaching and counseling to empower frightened, overwhelmed patients and their caregivers. Through creative grassroots efforts, Katie obtained wigs and headscarves to support patients experiencing hair loss. Her selfless commitment and thoughtful resourcefulness were extraordinary. Looking back, I can see how her background in oncology social work would later become the driving force in her passion for oncology nursing navigation.

In my capacity as chief medical officer and vice president for Cancer Clinical Affairs, I had the distinct privilege of recruiting Katie back to our team to spearhead the development of our navigation program. Now as the Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai’s first-ever clinical nurse manager of oncology navigation, Katie has implemented transformational systemwide changes around patient navigation. She pioneered navigation infrastructure where none existed, and standardized screening, staff training and care coordination workflows. Katie mentors approximately 10 navigators, instilling her values of health equity and patient-centered care. She collaborates on community outreach, cancer screening and risk reduction education in underserved communities. She prioritizes addressing barriers to care, advanced care directives and clinical trials to improve clinical outcomes for those typically underrepresented. Katie is the heart and soul of navigation at Mount Sinai, ensuring marginalized patients never slip through the cracks.

Under her exceptional leadership in oncology navigation, the impact on patient outcomes has been nothing short of transformative. Through her strategic guidance, the program has successfully secured grants aimed at alleviating financial burdens for patients, ensuring they receive timely and comprehensive care. These grants have become a lifeline for individuals facing economic challenges, enabling them to access essential treatments, medications and support services that would have otherwise been unattainable.

Katie’s visionary approach extends beyond medical assistance, as she has played a pivotal role in more formally addressing the social drivers of health. One notable initiative includes providing transportation assistance for patients, ensuring they can access care without the burden of logistical challenges. This comprehensive approach reflects Katie’s commitment to addressing the multifaceted needs of patients, fostering a holistic and supportive environment that goes beyond traditional medical care. The ripple effect of her efforts is evident in the improved well-being and resilience of the individuals she serves, making her a true catalyst for positive change in the realm of oncology navigation.

In summary, Katie Fromm is the embodiment of an extraordinary healer. Her journey from an infusion nurse, office practice nurse and now to a nurse navigator reflects her all-encompassing approach to cancer care in the nursing role and showcases her unwavering commitment to the well-being of oncology patients. She is not just a nurse; she is a beacon of hope and support for those navigating the challenging path of cancer. Her impact on our navigation program has been exceptional, and I am proud not only to have her on our team but to also call her a friend.


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