STAT Clinic: A One-Stop Approach for Breast Cancer Patients

STAT Clinic at WellStar North Fulton Hospital allows patients to fit many appointments into one

A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating for patients and families, but in the midst of bad news the STAT Clinic at WellStar North Fulton Hospital can offer a hope and increased chances of beating the disease.

Patients can expect to meet with a full multidisciplinary team of specialists and make treatment decisions faster than traditionally possible through WellStar Cancer Network’s STAT Clinic. “STAT stands for Special Teams and Treatments,” Dr. Laura Pearson, Medical Director of the Breast Program at WellStar North Fulton Hospital explained. “WellStar wants to provide patients with the specialized care using a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses and staff who are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of the patient’s specific cancer.”

Essentially, the STAT Clinic allows patients to fit many appointments into one, saving time, stress and potential confusion.

“The healthcare team works together in one location and supports the patient and family from the very beginning of the process,” said Oncology Services Manager and Breast Nurse Navigator Sarah Bentley. “The goal is to really cater to the patient as a whole, understanding their needs and valuing their time. We really want to prioritize that continuity of care.”

The Breast Cancer STAT Clinic features a team comprised of a fellowship-trained breast surgeon, board certified plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a breast cancer nurse navigator and more. Additionally, each patient is evaluated by a genetic counselor to determine the risk for hereditary cancers. Patients have access to physical therapists, nutritionists, wig and prostheses specialists and other counselors as well.

“The typical time from abnormal screening mammogram to initial treatment has always been relatively short at WellStar North Fulton,” Dr. Pearson said. “Less than 3-4 weeks on average. But, because of the nature of breast cancer treatment, sometimes the time from diagnosis until a patient has met with all the necessary providers can take several months as they sequentially go through the elements of their treatment.”

“The huge benefit with STAT Clinic is that a patient and the family meet their entire team on day one. STAT Clinic streamlines their workup, minimizes redundancy in diagnostic procedures, coordinates appointments to minimize delay and keeps the entire team in constant communication. If adjustments need to be made in a plan, it can be done with minimal delay or effort,” said Dr. Pearson.

Sara Bentley, the STAT Clinic nurse navigator who helps guide patients throughout treatment, says the patient is at the heart of the one-stop approach. “We want our patients spending less time stressing and lying awake at night. This way they leave the building with a care plan in hand and know exactly what to expect.”

For more information about the STAT Clinic please call 770-751-2720. ❍