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Local Cancer Patients to Benefit from Expansion of the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program

November 23, 2009

The American Cancer Society continues to develop its Patient Navigator Program at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, thanks to support it recently received from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP. The additional program at St. Vincent, opened in February of this year, is the first site to launch in Montana as part of a strategic nationwide effort to significantly extend the reach of this innovative program and assist individual cancer patients in negotiating the health care system.

“A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing experience for patients, their families and their caregivers,” said Kristi Farver Oaks, District Executive Director for the American Cancer Society. “Sarah Rachac, our patient navigator is able to provide support every step of the way, from explaining what to expect with chemotherapy to making sure patients have transportation to and from their appointments. Fighting cancer is a difficult, challenging journey, but with the help of trained American Cancer Society patient navigators such as Sarah, people don’t have to go through it alone.”

The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program directly connects cancer patients to a cancer education and support specialist – known as a “patient navigator” – who, through one-on-one relationships, serves as a personal guide to patients and caregivers as they face the psychosocial, emotional and financial challenges that cancer can bring. The service is free and confidential, and places an emphasis on assisting the medically underserved.

AstraZeneca’s support will enable the American Cancer Society to continue to fund its full-time American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program at St. Vincent Healthcare. The gift is part of a $10 million pledge by AstraZeneca to the Society to accelerate development of at least 50 new Patient Navigator Program sites over a five-year period in communities throughout the United States.

"With funding from AstraZeneca, the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program at St. Vincent Healthcare will enable us to continue to assist patients with personalized community resources and support,” said Maryann Reese, St. Vincent Healthcare COO. “This program proactively reaches patients who are most in need of specialized services and support, providing the critical link to local resources that will improve their outcomes and quality of life."

As no cancer experience is the same, American Cancer Society patient navigators connect patients and caregivers with the most appropriate programs and services to help improve each individual’s access to health care and quality of life. Whether it is getting patients and caregivers the information they need to make treatment decisions and better understand their disease, helping them deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer, such as transportation and insurance issues, or connecting them with community resources such as support groups, American Cancer Society patient navigators can provide help throughout the disease continuum – from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, and into survivorship. Furthermore, navigators are able to increase treatment compliance and follow-up care.

“AstraZeneca is thrilled to be the first company to give nationwide, large-scale support to the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program,” said Lisa Schoenberg, Vice President of Growth Specialty Care, AstraZeneca LP. “This new program site at St. Vincent Healthcare is a testament to our commitment to provide cancer patients with personalized healthcare. We are proud to support the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program in its mission to improve patient outcomes, not only in Billings, but in communities throughout the country.”

About the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program

The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program provides guidance for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers to help them navigate the cancer experience, with a focus on eliminating barriers to cancer care for the medically underserved. Formally launched in 2005, the Patient Navigator Program, in collaboration with community-based hospitals and cancer centers, links those affected by cancer to patient navigators who serve as personal guides for patients as they face the psychosocial, emotional and financial aspects of their unique cancer experience. Patient navigators receive national-level training through the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute Patient Navigation Research Program, as well as localized training and opportunities for ongoing education.

There are currently more than 100 American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program sites across the U.S., including the one located at St. Vincent Healthcare. The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program is a component of the American Cancer Society Cancer Resource Network, a comprehensive offering of free resources to help patients, their families, and caregivers manage the impact of cancer on their lives by providing information, day-to-day help, and emotional support.

About The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving more than 3 million volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription medicines and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $29.55 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.35 billion dollar healthcare business with 12,200 employees committed to improving people’s lives. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index. For more information visit www.astrazeneca-us.com.

About St. Vincent Healthcare

St. Vincent Healthcare is a comprehensive system of award-winning healthcare services located in Billings, Montana. St. Vincent is a regional destination hospital which serves a four-state area and more than 900,000 people each year. A comprehensive range of services include a Level II trauma Center, cardiothoracic and vascular medicine, comprehensive cancer services, family-centered maternal and child health – a Level III B NICU & Pediatric Intensive Care Unit – neurosurgery, orthopedics and the region’s most advanced diagnostic services. St. Vincent Healthcare is part of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System.

St. Vincent Healthcare’s quality, mission-driven, charitable healthcare has been in existence for more than 110 years. To learn more about St. Vincent Healthcare, visit www.svh-mt.org.