The Health Navigator Foundation

Bridging the gap between Hospital and Home


Founded in 2018, the Health Navigator Foundation supports patients facing the need for complex life saving surgeries.  With a health navigator by your side, we provide the essential resources of housing, food, parking and gas during the critical transition from hospital to discharge to recovery.

We believe that everyone deserves equitable access to resources that achieve optimal health outcomes. By addressing social determinants of health, we empower recipients of navigation services on their path to recovery and well-being.

Our Leadership Team (L-R): Sir John Mactaggart (Founder & Board Member), Lady Helena Mactaggart (Founder & Board Member), Nina Winterstein, LCSW (Program Director), Krista Ramonas, M.D. (Founder & Medical Director), Not pictured: Deb Frederick Franzon, M.D. (Clinical Research Director).

"Health Navigator was instrumental to my recovery... when our needs were most pronounced. [They were] my guiding light before and after my heart transplant. I am forever grateful!”
"This program was incredible! … I am and will forever be grateful for the additional layer of support that this program provided for me and my family. ... Thank you for making my recovery easier and for all that you have done to help."
"I can't tell you how much this saved us in this difficult time. … We swear by this program and cannot express enough how helpful this was for our family. With zero hesitation, we would highly recommend the program for anyone going through the LVAD process."
"What I really appreciate about that program is the way they make you feel comfortable like you are part of the family. …It is people like yourselves that restores my faith in the fact that there are selfless people that still genuinely care. So thank you very much from the bottom of my new heart"
"I really did appreciate your support after and during my serious health episode. You deserve the best for what you do. Thank you for your guidance in an ocean of pain and distress."
"I can’t say enough good things about the program. ...Nina ... my navigator also was fantastic with her help and support during my needs. She was also always there with support, encouragement, understanding and her endless compassion.... I will be forever grateful."

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Patient Stories

Learn about their experiences partnering with the Health Navigator Foundation.

Since 2018, Health Navigator Foundation...

March 26, 2024:

Empowering organ transplant recipients: The Health Navigator Foundation’s mission

Read article

What We Do

We are there to help navigate you through your recovery post-transplant or LVAD following your discharge from the hospital or rehabilitation facility.

  • Our team understands the nuances of clinic days and is available to navigate you and your caregiver during procedures, laboratories, and clinic appointments.
  • We know your clinic schedule can be complex and overwhelming, and our goal is to help you and your caregiver feel confident in navigating your medical follow-up.
  • You may have had to relocate temporarily following your transplant, and navigating the local community may be overwhelming and a source of stress. We are here to help guide you so you can focus on your recovery.
  • We also maintain constant communication with your medical care team to help bridge any gaps.

For individuals with qualifying income levels, we provide essential resources to allow those facing life-saving surgeries and their caregivers to focus on their recovery rather than worrying about ancillary costs of their illness. Patients with qualifying income levels are additionally offered basic resources including:

  • Food/meal support
  • Parking vouchers
  • Gas cards and/or Lyft rides
  • Short-term lodging
  • Caregivers

Dealing with organ failure can be daunting and filled with uncertainty. We have found that individuals and caregivers in this position benefit greatly from speaking to someone who has been through the process of organ transplant or advanced therapies and can describe their first-hand unique experience.

Our peer mentors are in the unique position to provide feedback and encouragement because of their experience.

The Peer Mentor Program consists of Transplant and LVAD recipients and their caregivers who have completed training to mentor patients and their caregivers going through the process. Peer Mentor roles include:

  • Sharing their personal experience with the process
  • Explaining their recovery and life after the transplant procedure
  • Offering reassurance, emotional and educational support and non-medical guidance

No Cost to You

Who We Are


Founder & Medical Director

Dr. Ramonas is a medical doctor who has been in practice in San Francisco for over twenty years. She is passionate about providing equitable access to healthcare for all in the Bay Area and beyond. She is Board certified in Ophthalmology, Ocular Oncology, and Longevity Medicine. She founded the Health Navigator Foundation in 2018 to focus on providing essential resources to patients in the critical discharge period following complex surgical intervention.


Director of Clinical Research

Deb Franzon MD is a board certified Pediatrician who works at UCSF Benioff Childrens Hopsitals as the Executive Medical Director of Quality and Safety.  She has a masters from UCLA school of Public Health and is a vocal advocate for the underserved and under-represented patients who are often marginalized in our health care system . Her passion is health equity and addressing critical social determinants of health.


Program Director

Nina holds an undergraduate and master’s degree from UC Berkeley and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She began her social work career in 2014, moving into direct care with transplant patients in 2019. Nina is dedicated to supporting patients and their caregivers during the critical period following their transplant or LVAD. Being able to witness the transformations of patients and help facilitate connections between them is incredibly rewarding. Nina believes in the power of peer connections—through the peer mentor program and monthly support group, she fosters nurturing connections where individuals can find solace, understanding, and strength during their recovery and beyond.

Sir John Mactaggart & Lady Helena Mactaggart

Founders & Board Members

John and Helena Mactaggart instigated the HNF following John’s successful heart and kidney transplant at CPMC in 2018. They wanted other transplant patients to benefit from their experience of being navigated through the process.