Phelps County Regional Medical Center's Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI), has a new face. Jennifer Gerlemann is a registered nurse, that started as the new nurse navigator at DDCI in early summer. But she's not a total stranger to the hospital. Jennifer started working there in 2000, when she left to pursue her RN degree, returning in 2008. Originally a cardiac nurse, she made her way into care management and eventually found her calling as the nurse navigator. “I'm starting to really feel settled in,” she said. “Every week I would try something new, if I didn't like it I would scratch it and start back over. I'm completely new to [the specialization of] cancer, so I am learning just like everyone else is. Cancer is so complex, it's been very challenging. It's been very helpful to go and sit in the chemo teachings—that way I can hear what the patients hear.” So what exactly does a nurse navigator do at the Institute? Jennifer explained how her job is to break barriers where she can. “What I'm doing currently is seeing every new patient, regardless of diagnosis,” she said. “Just kind of trying to get a baseline of how much they understand. The ones who really have a lot of trouble grasping things or following the doctors are the ones I really focus on. If they don't have family, I'll go in and sit in their doctor's appointments with them and write notes, or call their family and update them. [I'm] just trying to decipher the barriers that are keeping them from their treatment.” The Delbert Day Cancer Institute offers a wide variety of services all under one roof, but that can be tricky for someone not familiar with the hospital or DDCI. These range from dietician support to support groups all the way to radiology, surgical facilities and a pharmacy. Jennifer said that one of her many duties is to tie that all together for the patients. “I tell everybody when they come in here, 'I'm your personal nurse,'” she explained. “Any questions they don't feel comfortable asking the doctor, or as soon as they leave the doctor and forgot to ask something, feel free to call me,” she said. “I have a lot of patients who show up here, especially if they are starting to stack their appointments—they look at me and say 'I'm supposed to be here, but I don't know where.' So I make all the phone calls. I do all the busy work, the tracking stuff so it will take that weight and burden off their shoulders.” Jennifer is aware not all patients need her services, but her guiding hand can be crucial to some. “Some of them (patients) come in here carrying their binders and I know you're not gonna need me a whole lot,” she said. “Then, there are certain patients who come in here completely overwhelmed, and I can tell that from the second they sit down. They hear cancer and that's all they hear. They are scared, upset . . . their families are upset. So call me and we will go over that.” Jennifer spoke very highly of the Institute and their services, and how the proximity to those locally makes it even more convenient and special. “That's one of the things that everybody that comes in here likes,” she explained. “Some of them will even go to St.Louis and get a referral, and then they find out we are doing the same thing here—especially for radiation. Radiation is five days a week for several weeks, usually. It takes a lot out of you even living in Rolla for twenty minutes a day. This is great, because there is nothing in between Springfield and St. Louis (except for us). Everybody from the outlying areas come here. It's close to home . . . you get great access to care . . .the doctors are fantastic.” Jennifer said the DDCI doctors are among the best. “They are very friendly,” she noted. “Just sitting in a room with the patients on that side of it, listening to (the doctors) talk, [shows] they really care. “The patients can really feel that. They are not just a number to them, not just a block in their schedule. They come in and give personal care to them—they have good relationships with them.” According to Jennifer, being the new navigator is just trial and error. She explained how her coworker's and patient's suggestions help to shape her job every day. “Cancer (treatment) evolves everyday,” she said. “I just want the patients to know they are not in this alone. Just reach out to us. A lot of them come in here and they don't even know where to start. I give them my card—my cell number is on it and I tell them 'If you go home and have a complication over the weekend, call me.' That just makes them feel like 'Hey, I'm not stuck out there stranded.' I'm here. Call me, I'm yours.”