A Team Effort at the Lung Institute Helps Patient Navigate to Good Outcomes

August 21, 2017
Birgit Garlasco

Birgit Garlasco was at a follow-up visit with her primary care physician, Christine Mehriary, MD, when she learned that her white blood cell count was low – again. She was also having bouts of excessive sweating, so her doctor ordered a CT scan of the chest. The results indicated an abnormal nodule in Birgit’s right lung, which prompted Dr. Mehriary to order a PET scan, confirming the 1.5 centimeter mass.

Dr. Mehriary referred Birgit for an evaluation by Pulmonologist John Peters, DO, who is associated with The Lung Institute at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Lung Nurse Navigator, Kelsie Fryrear, RN, BSN, accompanied Birgit to her appointment. “Birgit had the option of a biopsy or doing a follow-up in three months, and she chose to have the biopsy,” says Kelsie. “At that time, the results did not indicate a malignancy, so Birgit was scheduled for a follow-up CT scan.”

After the next appointment, the nodule was still there, and Birgit decided to have it removed. Thoracic Surgeon Ronald Smith, MD, did the procedure. “We performed a uniportal video-assisted right upper lobectomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure that requires a two-inch incision. During the surgery, a pathologist analyzed the tumor and diagnosed it immediately as non-small cell lung cancer (adenocarcinoma). Knowing the type of cancer also enabled doctors to determine the proper type of chemotherapy for Birgit,” says Dr. Smith.

“I am so grateful to my doctors, including Dr. Mehriary. If it was not for her tenacity and proactive testing, this may have gone undiagnosed,” says Birgit. She also states that going through the process would not have been possible without Kelsie by her side. “Kelsie needs to be commended. My whole experience, including my stay at Manatee Memorial Hospital, was so well organized and I could not have done it without her help. She was always there for me and helped ease my anxiety. She truly is a blessed angel,” says Birgit.

A Nurse Navigator to Guide You Through

A nurse navigator is on call at The Lung Institute to offer personalized assistance. For more information or to make an appointment, call Lung Nurse Navigator Kelsie Fryrear, RN, BSN, at 941-745-6930.

Should You Have a Screening for Lung Cancer?

Most lung cancers are found incidentally and are often difficult to treat. Low-dose CT lung screenings are now available and covered by Medicare. The following criteria should be met to qualify for the screening:

  • Smokers who are 55-77 years old, who have smoked a pack or more of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years and who are still smoking or who have quit less than 15 years ago
  • Currently have no symptoms, such as fever, chest pain, new shortness of breath, new or changing cough, coughing up blood or unexplained significant weight loss
  • No personal history of lung cancer within the past five years

A doctor’s prescription is required. If you have no insurance, the self-pay cost is $99. For more information, call 941-745-6930 or visit The Lung Institute.