Community Foundation Grants Support Oncology Patients, Nurse Navigator Program at McLaren Northern Michigan

The McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation received grants totaling $28,873 from local Community Foundations for the Oncology Nurse Navigator Program at McLaren Northern Michigan. The grants will support newly diagnosed patients navigate their cancer journey.

Oncology Nurse Navigators work with approximately 2,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients from across 22 northern Michigan counties annually. Nurse Navigators ensure seamless and coordinated care among physicians, diagnostic tests, and cancer treatments.

Nurse Navigators complete specialized training to work with cancer patients. They offer education, support, and guidance to help patients and families cope and overcome financial, logistical, and social barriers to care.

Jeanne Melton, RN, OCN, ONN-CG, Lung Cancer Nurse Navigator, primarily works with lung cancer patients. In addition to treating patient’s physical symptoms, she provides emotional, psychosocial, and financial support for patients.

“When patients have abnormal scans and require additional testing, they become anxious,” says Melton. “Patients are scared about the health and potential diagnosis, but they deal with so many other stressors. I am able to identify their barriers to care and connect them with resources.”

Melissa DeSimone, MSN, RN, OCN, CBCN, Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator, works with breast cancer patients. To help each patient understand the diagnosis and treatment plan, she puts together an individualized care plan, outlining every step of the journey.

“We want to understand and support each patient’s unique needs and make sure he or she can access the care needed,” says DeSimone.

At this time, Nurse Navigator services are not reimbursable by insurance and are funded by donors to the McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation. Recent grants for the program include:
• $10,000 from Charlevoix County Community Foundation
• $1,500 from Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan
• $1,000 from Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation
• $3,373 from Otsego Community Foundation
• $3,000 from Otsego County United Way
• $10,000 from Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation

“Funding from the Community Foundations is helping to ensure the sustainability of the Oncology Nurse Navigator Program,” said Patrick Schulte, Vice President and Chief Development Officer at McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation. “We are grateful to our Community Foundation partners for supporting this important program and are inspired by their dedication to funding the needs of our northern Michigan communities.”

The Oncology Nurse Navigator Program was established in 2013 by donors to the McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation. To learn more, visit

For information on services available at McLaren Northern Michigan, please call 800-248-6777 or visit