Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Genetics Program is using this year’s Genetic Counselling Awareness Week, from November 20th to the 26th, to raise awareness about genetics, health and genetic services that are available to residents in Northwestern Ontario. This year, the Canadian Association for Genetic Counsellors titled the week ‘Genetic Conditions: Not As Rare As You May Think.’
When asked about the meaning behind the theme, Leanne Mercer, Genetic Counsellor with the Genetics Program, said “Genetic conditions are individually rare, but added together they are more common than people may think.”
Determining your risk of developing or passing on a genetic condition is where the Genetics Program at our Hospital can be helpful. “Many people think that we focus primarily on pre-natal genetic counselling, but in reality most of our cases are not pre-natal,” explains William Pirjamali, Genetic Counsellor. “Genetics can affect anybody at any stage in their life.”
Genetic Counsellors are health care providers with specialized training and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. “We provide ‘non-directive’ counselling, which means that we help clients to make informed decisions that are right for them and their family,” clarifies Mercer. “My goal is to provide clients with the information that they need to make the best choice for themselves.” In addition to genetic counselling services that are offered regularly, five times per year a geneticist, a medical doctor who has special training in the area of inherited diseases, joins the team in Thunder Bay for genetics clinics.
In order to access the Genetics Program, a referral from a health care provider is required. The services that are offered through the program include:
In order to help provide more education about genetics, health and genetic counselling and services at our Hospital, the Genetics Program is hosting the November Healthy Get-Together – a public education session that focuses on chronic disease prevention and healthy living. The title of the session is ‘What You’re Coded For: Facts and Fallacies about Genetics’, and will feature a panel of experts, including two geneticists and two genetic counsellors. The public is welcome to join the event on Wednesday, November 23rd from 7:00 – 8:00 pm in the Auditorium at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. RSVP by calling (807) 684-7237. The speakers will also have an encore session on Thursday, November 24th at 12:00 pm that can be joined via an Ontario Telemedicine Network Site or by live webcast.
To learn more about the Genetics Program at our Hospital, visit www.tbrhsc.net/genetics.
For more information, please contact: