Greater Boston Urology Blog

What Does an OAB Nurse Navigator Do?

A common condition we treat at Greater Boston Urology is overactive bladder (OAB), which affects women and men. OAB, also known as urge incontinence, causes a sudden and frequent urge to pee that might be difficult to control. You might also experience urine leakage.

According to the Urology Care Foundation, "As many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms."

At GBU, we have an OAB nurse navigator on staff. Her name is Celeste Pires, and she helps patients manage their OAB treatment plans. 

Celeste is a long-time member of the GBU family. She started as a medical assistant and worked up to lead medical assistant. She then pursued her nursing degree and graduated with honors from Lawrence Memorial Regis College.

We asked Celeste to sit down with us to answer questions about her role as an OAB nurse navigator.

As with all content on our blog, the following is educational, not medical advice. Always consult your physician regarding your unique healthcare needs.

What does an OAB nurse navigator do, specifically?

CELESTE: An OAB nurse navigator helps patients with their overactive bladder treatment plan. My job is supporting patients, ensuring they understand what happens next, and advocating for them and their concerns.

Something as simple as offering an empathetic ear, especially when a patient is first diagnosed, can go a long way in helping the patient. I also believe in holding patients' hands literally and figuratively throughout their treatment. For example, I'll hold their hand during urodynamic testing since most patients aren't familiar with what it is or what to expect.

Showing someone is not alone is crucial, especially with a condition like OAB. Many think their symptoms are caused by old age and that they must live with it, even if their quality of life is severely affected. I want people to know you don't have to live with it. GBU has many treatment options.

Do all GBU patients dealing with OAB get assigned to you?

CELESTE: Yes, all of our OAB patients are assigned to me. GBU has given me the tools, like robust electronic medical records, so I can help each patient along the way—even if we're only connecting virtually most of the time. 

How closely do you work with each patient's physician?

CELESTE: I work with all the physicians at GBU, but I work especially closely with Dr. Angel Marie Johnson, the Director of Women's Health, since she treats many patients with OAB.

How often do you meet with patients?

CELESTE: I meet with patients daily via phone, in person, or for procedures like urodynamic testing. As for each patient, how often we meet will depend on their care plans. 

Do you meet patients in person only, or do you offer telehealth visits?

CELESTE: I'm based out of the Framingham Care Center. So I'll see patients in person in Framingham or meet with other patients (like those on the Cape) via phone. 

What are some common misconceptions that people have about overactive bladder?

CELESTE: In almost every conversation I have with new patients, they think their overactive bladder symptoms only affect older people. Not true! OAB can—and does—affect people of all ages since it has many underlying causes. Also, many people think OAB only affects women, but men have OAB, too. 

If there were one thing that you'd want someone reading this to understand about OAB, what would it be? 

CELESTE: Do not give up. People may get discouraged with their diagnosis, but we have many treatment options. If the first one doesn't work, we can try something else.

What do you love most about your work as an OAB nurse navigator with GBU?

CELESTE: Giving compassionate care and helping in any way possible. Many people throw in the towel with their treatment plan even before getting started on a medication. 

And speaking of meds, nurse navigators are a huge help to patients by helping them navigate medication hassles. Sometimes, a patient will leave the doctor's office and go straight to the pharmacy to pick up the recommended medication, and it's denied, or they have to pay a fortune for it. Without the help of a nurse navigator, they're left to fend for themselves, which often results in them showing up at their follow-up appointment in three to four weeks, saying, "I never started the medication." 

And, of course, sometimes patients experience side effects from meds, too, so they stop taking them.

As the nurse navigator, my job is to pick up the pieces and get a medication that's covered through insurance companies and affordable for the patient. Or in the case of side effects, I'll reach out to the doctor on the patient's behalf and ask the doctor to switch medications due to intolerable side effects. 

This way, when you come in for your follow-up appointment in three to four weeks, you and your doctor will have a real sense of your progress or if you need to try something different.  

I love helping patients get an effective treatment that helps their symptoms improve. I also love the hands-on aspect of my job, like performing urodynamic testing. I get the best of both worlds: the hands-on tasks and the hand-holding with patients. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

CELESTE: Please check out our overactive bladder treatment plan. 

Are you dealing with OAB? Make an appointment at Greater Boston Urology.

We have locations throughout eastern Massachusetts, including the Cape. Request an appointment with one of our world-class physicians.


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