Making sense of the complex healthcare system to access timely care is the focus of new efforts to support families dealing with breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen Columbus is investing more than $872,000 toward helping breast cancer patients access quality care in a timely manner.

Seven local "patient navigation networks" will benefit from the grant, including:

OhioHealth care sites and mobile mammography in Central and southeastern Ohio Ohio University Healthy Adult Project: Breast Education Screening & Navigation Program Mercy Health Foundation Clark and Champaign counties (Springfield Imaging and Lab Center, Springfield Cancer Center) LifeCare Alliance Columbus Cancer Clinic Heart of Ohio Family Health Center Mount Carmel Health System Foundation Ohio State University's Wayfinder Patient Navigation Program

Patient navigation is when a nurse, social worker or peer health advocate guides patients through the health care system as they obtain diagnoses and treatment.

“Along the way we offer individualized education and assistance to navigate and access the healthcare system,” said Julie McMahon, director of mission at Komen Columbus, in a release. “We break down financial, transportation and childcare barriers. We provide guidance on securing necessary social needs referrals in an effort to address health disparities. And we work to prevent lapses in care because of differences in language or culture.”

Community navigation programs will guide more than 3,500 patients in Komen Columbus' 30-county service area this year. The organization has invested more than $30 million since 1993 to support breast health programs and research.

Annual events such as the Columbus Race for the Cure and Athens Race for the Cure generate much of the funds awarded each year. This year, Komen Columbus continued a joint funding partnership with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville to improve care in six counties.

This year's Komen Columbus Race for the Cure is May 18.