Volunteer Spotlight: Patrick Wooten

Background & History with Komen

Patrick Wooten’s connection with Komen emerged from his work in outreach services at Eskenazi Health by expanding the use of patient navigators in community-based settings.  Patient Navigation was established by Dr. Harold Freeman in 1990 to combat cancer disparities.  He adapted Dr. Freeman’s original notion by structuring the program within its outpatient Community Health Centers.  Wooten’s version of Patient Navigation utilized trained professionals to work with Eskenazi Health patients and their families to navigate to a healthy continuum of care.  The scope of the program included new patients and patients most in need of early follow-up after a hospital discharge or release from an urgent or emergent care setting.  As a result of this program, patients who were most likely to be uninsured or underinsured received high‐quality, condition‐appropriate care throughout the entire primary care and Eskenazi healthcare delivery system.

The program fused their efforts with the health system’s cancer platform “EMBRACE” (Encouraging Meaning and Balance in a Renewing and Comforting Environment) to serve as a “care-continuum link” by utilizing a database to refer women who are rarely or never screened for breast or cervical cancer.  The efforts of Wooten and his community-based patient navigation network quickly caught the eye of the Central Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen leaders, and other health systems across the cancer continuum—which was the start of his involvement with Komen.   

In collaboration with Key Bank and Susan G. Komen national office, Wooten served as a panelist in the 2012 Breast Health Summit that included local health experts and breast cancer survivors.  He shared best-practices and outcomes of his work with uninsured, low-income, and medically underserved women in the Indianapolis area.  Next, Wooten and the director of the EMBRACE cancer program facilitated a webinar series on “Navigating Through the Continuum of Care & Demonstrating the Return On Investment Through the Use of Patient Navigators.”  The program was sponsored by Indiana University School of Medicine and Central Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.  Wooten joined the board of the Central Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, starting his first term in January 2013.  His efforts continued by serving as a key speaker at the fall 2013 “Transforming Oncology Care Through Nurse Navigation” Symposium, an educational opportunity that Community Hospital offered in collaboration with Komen Central Indiana to demonstrate the value of patient navigation as a critical part of the continuum of care and survivorship.

Why Komen?

Some colleagues ask, why Komen—but Wooten says, why not Komen?  Nearly all Eskenazi Health patients that are facing cancer have the same barriers as cited in the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Community Profile Report.  Barriers which include, but are not limited to, financial, linguistic, time management, transportation, and general emotional fear.  Eskenazi Health is one of the largest safety net hospitals in the U.S. and the only public, general acute care hospital in Marion County, Indiana.  The health system is uniquely positioned to access and serve the most vulnerable populations.  Being a part of an affiliate that shares in the mission of serving people of all races/ethnicities, ages, genders, orientations, and religions, regardless of their ability to pay, is where Wooten aspires to volunteer his time and talent.   

Serving Komen

Wooten was selected as Vice President during his second term and elected to serve as the incoming 2018 President.  In Wooten’s new position, he will chair the executive committee and board, which functions to advise and assist in policy making, strategic planning, finances, community relations, and operations for the Central Indiana Affiliate.  Additionally, efforts spearheaded by Wooten and the board are to ensure the affiliate is effectively working toward reaching the bold goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the U.S. by 2026.

Serving on the Komen Central Indiana Affiliate Missions Committee has been Wooten’s favorite volunteer project. In 2017-2018, the effort of the committee and board distributed available Komen grant dollars into two categories (1) Education/Linkage to Care and, (2) Patient Navigation.  The goal of Komen Central Indiana’s patient navigation program is to ensure quality and timely access to treatment for all breast cancer patients living in central Indiana.

Wooten’s favorite event is the Pink Tie Ball.  Although he has never been a “Pink Tie Guy”, there is something enchanting about men raising money for the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.  “The guys participating in the event are all winners, but the competition among this group is to be the top guy.”

Proceeds from the evening save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.

External to Wooten’s board responsibilities, he continues to serve at Eskenazi Health as Director of Service Excellence for the primary care medical practices.  In this position, he provides strategic direction and leadership in promoting a culture of service excellence across the Eskenazi Health community health centers.  He also leads practice process improvement initiatives to drive excellence in the delivery of services and overall patient satisfaction and staff engagement.  

Wooten has been affiliated with the health system since 1998 and hasn’t become weary in seeking excellence for the underserved populations.  He says, do you remember being a small child in the backseat of the family car on a long journey asking, “Are we there yet?”  When you finally arrived at the long-awaited destination – whether it was the beach or an amusement park or your grandparents’ house – you savored the end result.  The experience didn’t leave you mentally exhausted; it left you energized. You look back and say, “That was great.  Where can we go next?”

That’s what continually seeking excellence feels like.