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Navigating Through Back, Neck, and Spine Pain at UPMC in South Central Pa.

Navigators Help You Find the Right Plan for Back, Neck and Spine Pain

You’ve been diagnosed with chronic pain. Physical therapy, pain management, alternative treatments, or surgery – what option should you choose?

Finding the right treatment path for back, neck, and spine pain can be confusing. You probably have a lot of questions about your treatment plan and the next steps for managing your pain.

The nurse navigators at the Spine Care Center —part of UPMC Pinnacle — are here to guide you through the process.

What Is a Nurse Navigator and What Makes Ours Unique?

A nurse navigator is a nurse who guides or “navigates” your care plan. They are not standard at other spine care centers.

But at the UPMC Spine Care Center, our nurse navigators are a vital part of your care team. In fact, UPMC in South Central Pa. is the only provider in the region that has outpatient spine nurse navigators as a resource for you.

Having nurse navigators on your care team helps you get answers more quickly and gives you a point of contact when your provider is not available.

They're with you every step of the way and will:

  • Help you during an appointment. The nurse navigator helps you change into a gown, administers injections, provides consent forms, enters the medicines into the computer, and more.
  • Provide post-appointment education. When the provider leaves the room, the nurse navigator will continue to answer any questions you may have. They will also give you educational handouts to provide more clarification.
  • Explain next steps and follow up. They will review your next appointments, scheduled tests, and manage the insurance authorization process and paperwork. They will also check in with you after your appointments and help you comply with the treatment plan.
  • Become your point of contact. As a Spine Care Center patient, a nurse navigator is assigned to you and can answer any of your questions. They will respond in a timely manner, explain the rationale behind the planned treatment, and coordinate any other care you may need.
  • Review test results. After a test, you can come back to the office to review the results with a provider. Or, after the provider reviews the test results and makes a plan, the nurse navigator can call you and discuss the results and next steps. This is a great time and money saver for you.
  • Be attentive to your health history. The nurse navigators are “tuned in” to your entire medical history and recent events. They tell the provider if you were in the emergency department, had a follow-up appointment with your PCP, or had a change in your medical history. This helps the provider update and guide your plan of care. During follow-up appointments, the nurse navigators will give the providers a detailed report before they come into the exam room. This means less waiting time for you during your office visit.
  • Be available for you outside of appointments. A nurse navigator available Monday through Friday at each Spine Care Center location or by phone. They are also available when the provider is not in the office.
  • Advocate for you. The nurse navigator is part of your care team and will share new treatment plan ideas with the provider on your behalf. She will also help to translate complex medical information into a language you can understand and apply. This includes providing emotional support as well.

Meet our Nurse Navigators at the Spine Care Center

Bridget Aschenbrenner, BSN, RN, received a Bachelor of Arts from Shippensburg University. She studied mortuary science at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and became a licensed funeral director. She shifted her career to the medical field and received an Associate Degree in nursing from Harrisburg Area Community College and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Millersville University.

Bridget began her career with UPMC Pinnacle 16 years ago as a cardiac nurse at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg before transitioning to a nurse case manager and then to a nurse navigator at the Spine Care Center when the centers opened.

Jessica Deibler, BSN, RN, received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Penn State University and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Spine Care Center team, Jess was a critical care nurse and then the director of nursing for the Outpatient Surgery Center at UPMC Pinnacle West Shore campus. She also has clinical experience in wound care and hospice.

To make an appointment with the UPMC Spine Care Center, please call 717-791-2630.