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Riverside Health System to Open the Patricia R. St. Clair Program for Cancer Genetics and Prevention

May 27, 2021
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Riverside Health System is proud to announce the extension of its genetic services through the new Patricia R. St. Clair Program for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. Riverside has provided genetic counseling and testing for newly diagnosed cancer patients for the past decade and in 2020 engaged a genetic counseling organization to virtually provide expertise across the Riverside Cancer Network. As an expansion of these efforts, the Patricia R. St. Clair Program for Cancer Genetics and Prevention will incorporate screening for community members who seek preventative care throughout all of Riverside’s primary care offices. Beginning in 2022, Riverside primary care providers and their teams will offer individuals throughout our region pre-screening, genetic counseling, and testing for genes that may predispose a person to a higher risk of cancer.  If a higher risk is identified, patients will be offered a surveillance plan with their primary care provider and in coordination with other subspecialists within the Riverside Health System. This surveillance program will offer prevention and early detection options, empowering individuals to take control of their health.  As the program expands to other specialties, the community will have greater access to understanding their options related to assessing risk and prevention needs for a variety of cancers.  

“We want to continue to ensure the community is receiving the most accurate information as well as the best support for health, which is why we launched our cancer genetics program in 2010. As genetic testing has advanced offering information ahead of diagnosis, our team was driven to ensure those at risk could be informed as early as possible,” said Bill Downey, CEO of Riverside Health System. “We are thankful to Patti for her vision and generosity. By believing in our mission: To care for others as we would care for those we love — to enhance their well-being and improve their health, we can bring greater awareness and care at an earlier stage to the community.”

Patricia R. St. Clair, a Newport News native and nurse, always shared a passion for prevention and education programs with her late husband and Riverside’s previous CEO, Nelson Lewis St. Clair. With an opportunity to improve the information captured during preventative care conversations, and as a gesture towards their involvement in the local healthcare community, Mrs. St. Clair was inspired to partner with the Riverside Foundation to create a genetics screening program initiated through primary and specialist office visits. 

Reaching more than 2 million Virginians, the program will cover the care process from prevention to survivorship in the Eastern region of Virginia including the Eastern Shore and the Middle Peninsula areas. Many conditions, including specific cancers, are passed on genetically, which means some family members may be diagnosed while others may carry the gene and continue to pass it down. Through the Patricia R. St. Clair Program for Cancer Genetics and Prevention, patients will have genetic screening incorporated into their check-in questionnaires during preventative care visits. If the initial screening indicates a risk potential, patients will have the option to receive in-depth genetic counseling from Masters or Ph.D. trained genetic counselors and testing to support the best course of care as an extension of the patient–provider relationship. 

“We’re excited to incorporate genetics into our preventative care measures because we see this as another opportunity to ensure we’re diagnosing and treating as early as possible,” said Dwight Herbert, M.D., Primary Care Service Line Chief for Riverside Health System. “As a dedicated health partner in Eastern Virginia, we’re proud to provide a higher level of surveillance to our high-risk patients and look forward to improving the lives this program will impact.” 

To support The Patricia R. St. Clair Program for Cancer Genetics and Prevention, contact us at (757)234-8740 or [email protected]