Judy C. Kneece, RN, OCN
Judy C. Kneece is the president of EduCare and a certified oncology nurse with a specialty in breast cancer. She was working as an acute care oncology nurse when she first observed the multitude of challenges faced by breast cancer patients. In 1991, inspired by these patients' courage and spirit, and her personal experience with a family member battling breast cancer, Judy made the decision to devote her life to changing the way healthcare is provided to breast cancer patients.
Shortly after making her decision, Judy was given the opportunity to start a program of support for breast cancer patients in her hospital. She saw that a breast cancer diagnosis was more than a medical challenge for a patient-it also presented social and personal challenges that were rarely addressed, and which could significantly impede a patient's recovery. Knowing that women needed more than medical treatment to arrive at recovery emotionally intact, Judy developed a program that addressed patients' emotional and social issues, in addition to providing medical education and navigation of the patient throughout the continuum of care.
After gaining national attention for her program's success with patients and administrators, Judy wanted to help other facilities develop their own program. In 1994, with a passion in her heart and a small inheritance used for start-up funds, Judy began EduCare Inc. as a breast health training and publishing company. Over the past fifteen years, EduCare has been a pioneer in developing patient education, educational materials and healthcare professional training. Judy continues to be an advocate for change in breast care, knowing that her voice echoes the pleas of thousands of women and men diagnosed yearly for improved education and support.
Since 1994, more than 2,200 nurses have completed the EduCare Breast Health Navigator course preparing them to educate, support, and successfully navigate patients and training them to implement interdisciplinary care conferences for physicians in their facility.
Because comprehensive breast health centers and patient navigation were new concepts, Judy began teaching national Strategic Planning workshops for breast center administrators. Her complete "how-to" center guide has allowed more than 500 hospitals to implement comprehensive breast programs incorporating the nurse for patient navigation and to start interdisciplinary care patient conferences.
To understand the real needs of patients, Judy conducted national focus groups allowing patients to share their experiences. The information gleaned from the groups helped advance the development of materials and services to better serve patients with recurrence and sexuality issues after chemotherapy. The first focus groups, held in 9 facilities nationwide during 2000, were on recurrent breast cancer. In 2001, they were followed by groups in 11 facilities nationwide that focused on sexuality after chemotherapy. The survey data has been shared with other organizations to help them improve services.
EduCare has developed the COPE Library: Breast Health Edition, which consists of over 430 topics, allowing nurses and doctors to deliver symptom-specific education efficiently. Each topic is customized with the facility's name and contact information and can be printed on-demand from the healthcare provider's own computer.
Professionally, Judy has published five books, The Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook (8th Edition), Breast Cancer Support Partner Handbook (8th Edition), Finding A Lump in Your Breast, Solving The Mystery of Breast Pain and Solving The Mystery of Breast Discharge. Training manuals include The Breast Health Navigator Manual, The Comprehensive Breast Center Strategic Planning Manual and Breast Center Design.
EduCare continues to have their hand on the pulse of patients and navigators, sensing their needs and developing tools to meet the ever changing challenges of breast health care delivery. All educational materials are kept up-to-date and cover current treatment issues. The products are designed to be educational and do not offer treatment advice, only explanations allowing the healthcare provider to be the guiding force in care delivery.
Judy has published over 40 articles in national publications about patient-focused care, breast cancer navigation, survivorship and comprehensive breast center development. She served as Administrative Radiology Journal Breast Health Editor during 1995-1996. She also served as secretary and was on the Advisory Board for the National Consortium of Breast Centers. She presently serves on the American College of Surgeons' National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) on the Education Committee and on the Advisory Board for the national Clinical Breast Care Project for Windber/Walter Reed Medical Center.
In May of 2007, Judy was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Charleston Southern University for her outstanding work and contributions to improve cancer care delivery.
"Patients are the experts on their care experience; they know what they need. They know what worked and didn't work in their care. As healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to ask, hear and respond to their advice. This is healthcare at its best-an empowered patient with a responsive caregiver. Together, we can change the experience for women in the future." --Judy Kneece