Preventing Colorectal Cancer One Call at a Time
Spotlight on Judy Giddens, Bayhealth Colorectal Screening Nurse Navigator
A kind, reassuring voice offering to help may make the difference in someone taking a preventative step that could save their life. Bayhealth Colorectal Screening Nurse Navigator Judy Giddens knows this firsthand. She is the person on the other end of the line answering and making phone calls weekly to ensure our community members get screened for colorectal cancer.
Giddens got her start in the healthcare field working in medical billing in Virginia. At times she would work directly with patients to gather information prior to their appointments. She realized she found joy in helping, interacting with, and advocating for patients.
This inspired Giddens to go back to school for her licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate and she has worked in nursing ever since. She joined Bayhealth’s Medical Oncology team three years ago and has been in the colorectal screening nurse navigator role for close to a year now.
“My goal is to reach more people in the community and educate them on the importance of prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer,” said Giddens. “With more screenings scheduled we hope to save more lives.”
Giddens takes a personalized approach in ensuring that each person she speaks to gets screened and walks them through each step. Sometimes this means getting them set up with a primary care clinician first. For patients in the 45 – 75 age range, she can make the colonoscopy consult appointment for them if needed.
She helps community members overcome any barriers to getting screened, including not having health insurance. Bayhealth partners with Healthy Delaware - Delaware Cancer Consortium and Screening for Life, a government-funded program that makes free screenings available for those who qualify.
Although a colonoscopy is painless, Giddens shows empathy to patients who seem reluctant and explains what to expect. “I tell them it’s okay to be hesitant and I understand. I mention my own experience with the prep and colonoscopy and that it’s not as bad as they might think,” she said.
What makes Giddens most proud in her work is when patients return her calls or send MyChart messages saying they’ve scheduled their screenings and they thank her for reminding or helping them. “When I reach someone and they’ve taken that step to get screened, I know I’ve made a difference in their life.”
Visit Bayhealth.org/Get-Screened to learn about Bayhealth’s campaign to make colorectal cancer history. Call 302-744-6098 today to speak to Giddens and take steps for you or a loved one to get screened.