After spending 30 years as an oncology nurse, Laureano Dalama took on the role of patient navigator at Memorial Neuroscience Institute. As the first (and only) patient navigator for the neurology at Memorial, Laureano works with patients who suffer from migraine headaches, epilepsy, and other neurological conditions.
In his previous job as a chemotherapy infusion nurse, Laureano worked with patients and their families at the bedside. He would administer and monitor chemotherapy infusions and instruct on potential side effects to treatment.
His current role may consist of less direct patient care, yet Laureano says he enjoys helping patients gain access to care. When a new patient is referred to the Neuroscience Institute, Laureano requests medical records from previous neurology offices, which are essential to their neurology visit at Memorial.
As a navigator, he regularly serves as a nurse liaison between patient and healthcare providers by relating results and instructions key to their treatment. He often acts as a Spanish interpreter during patient’s visits, which he finds very rewarding. Having worked as a nurse himself, Laureano thinks he’s well suited to act as a bridge between providers and patients, helping to optimize patients’ overall experience at Memorial Neuroscience Institute.
"It's like connecting the dots for the patient and their families so they don't have to worry about gathering records and other information and they can focus solely on their visits and treatments,” he says.
While patient navigation is a relatively new trend, Laureano says navigation has been around much longer, since, he insists, everyone in the healthcare system takes on navigation duties in their day-to-day jobs assisting patients and families from point A to point B.
A natural “people” person, Laureano finds the nursing profession and the new navigator role to be extremely fulfilling and says he could not imagine having chosen a better career for himself.
"I know how to make the patients and families feel good and make their experience here an excellent one," Laureano says. "It's very satisfying to speak to a patient and hear they had an excellent experience at Memorial and that I was able to make a difference in their lives.”
While he feels blessed to work in such a positive environment, for Laureano, “the Memorial neurology team feels like a family, with great coworkers.”
He also contributes to the encouraging atmosphere by frequently hanging his abstract and botanical paintings in his office. Laureano's paintings are inspired by his Afro-Cuban culture, which uses vibrant colors and positive energy. He considers painting a "mood elevator.” Colors have an unspoken way of transforming into positive energy, he says.
“Colors complement and collaborate with each other to create a beautiful image. Here at Memorial, all of our employees are artists in their own unique way and they all paint a beautiful masterpiece: Memorial,” says Laureano, who would love to see art therapy expand across all areas within the healthcare system. “I’m very thankful and proud to be part of Memorial Neuroscience Institute.”