Whenever oncologist Lloyd Shabazz, MD, discovers his patients might struggle to pay for cancer medications, he calls Latasha Jordan-Veal. She is the pharmacy financial services coordinator with Bon Secours Cancer Institutes at Harbour View, DePaul and Mary Immaculate.
Latasha specializes in patient assistance. She meets with patients who have cancer or chronic illness to assess their financial needs and apply for free drug or co-pay assistance on their behalf. If a patient needs help with transportation, shelter or getting signed up for Medicaid insurance, she assists with that as well.
“It’s reassuring knowing that Latasha is there to help my patients work through financial difficulties,” says Dr. Shabazz. "She always comes through for the patients."
When a Bon Secours Cancer Institute patient’s husband lost his job and health insurance, the patient no longer had coverage for the chemotherapy and medications she needed for care. Her bill for the month was $174,000. But through Latasha’s efforts, that bill dropped to $6,400.
“I tell every patient, do not skip a treatment because you can’t afford it. We’ll figure something out,” says Latasha.
Latasha’s great work does not go unnoticed. In March, Latasha was recognized with a 2019 Health Care Heroes award from Inside Business, the Hampton Roads Business Journal.
Oncologists, nurses and infusion technicians all know Latasha and reach out to her when they find a patient in need — even at the last possible moment.
On the day of his chemotherapy, a terminal cancer patient had yet to receive approval for his treatment despite Latasha’s appeal to the drug manufacturer’s foundation. She immediately called the foundation, explained the urgency of the situation, and convinced the foundation to approve the application.
“When patients receive a cancer diagnosis they’re focused on fighting the disease, not how to pay for treatment,” says Dr. Shabazz. “Latasha lightens the load for so many of our patients.”
In the 2018 fiscal year alone, Latasha recovered $1.2 million worth of free drugs for patients.
“At the end of the day, I feel as if I’m where I’m supposed to be,” says Latasha. “I’ve touched so many different lives, on numerous levels, and that’s what’s most important to me. I can truly say it’s a calling not just a career.”
Learn more about Bon Secours Cancer Care.