Breast health navigator guides Adirondack Health patients through screening and diagnosis

Adirondack Health's breast health navigator guides patients through screenings and diagnosis.
October 24, 2019

A familiar face at Adirondack Medical Center is putting her 37 years of nursing experience to new use as a breast health navigator.

Margaret Sorensen will be responsible for meeting with Adirondack Health patients who need additional breast health imaging services, guidance or education following, for example, abnormal findings in mammogram and ultrasound screenings.

“I get hugged daily,” said Sorensen. “As you can imagine, an abnormal mammogram – whether it leads to a cancer diagnosis or not – is a very distressing time in a woman’s life.”

In addition to the emotional and educational support Sorensen provides to patients, she will also be keeping things moving on the clinical side: communicating results, sending reports to physicians and clinics, and mailing patient letters.

Sorensen’s main nursing focus has always been women’s health. A family nurse practitioner, she began working at Adirondack Medical Center in 1998, overseeing both the hospital’s maternity ward and its surgical floor. She also taught, and still teaches, nursing students at North Country Community College. In 2002, Sorensen was promoted to chief nursing officer at Adirondack Medical Center and served in the role for the next 12 years.

“Margaret has a warm heart and a strong background in women’s health,” said Dave Mader, Adirondack Health’s present chief nursing officer. “She is a great addition to our staff as a breast health navigator.”

Several years ago, following a stint as chief nursing officer at Albany Memorial Hospital, Sorensen tried to retire – but quickly grew bored. She returned to the Adirondacks and accepted a staff educator position at Mercy Living Center, Adirondack Health’s long-term care and short-term rehabilitation facility in Tupper Lake. When the breast health navigator position posted, Sorensen was intrigued by the opportunity to again practice in women’s health.

As a breast health navigator, Sorensen reports to Jessica Duhaime, nurse manager of Adirondack Health’s women’s health center. The arrangement represents something of a role reversal; 20 years ago, Duhaime was one of Sorensen’s standout nursing students at North Country Community College.

“As nurses, we put so much of ourselves into our careers that we tend to hang around,” said Sorensen.

“I have some good friends who have fought the [breast cancer] battle, and are still winning it, thank the Lord.

“I think Dr. Emily [Szczech], Jim [Sabin], Jess [Duhaime] and I see this as a very patient-centered program. What I want to do is educate women to be able to make good choices for themselves and connect them to the right care.”

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