Genetics Program

The genetics program at Virginia Mason Memorial provides genetic counseling, testing, and consultation for individuals and families with a variety of concerns. Genetic counselors in Yakima provide the same genetics services one would receive in a metropolitan area. Counselors also travel to Sunnyside and Toppenish once a month and Wenatchee four times a month to help serve the population of Central Washington.

Prenatal Genetics »
Pediatric Genetics »
Cancer Genetics »
Adult Genetics »
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) »

Prenatal Genetics

Contact: (206) 598-3900

Prenatal genetic counselors understand that each family is unique. We see pregnant women and their families for a variety of reasons. Usually the family has a question or worry about a birth defect or health condition in future children. Medical reasons families might see us include:

  • Prenatal screening/testing information
  • A positive screening or diagnostic test result
  • Abnormal ultrasound findings
  • Concerns for exposure to medications, drugs, herbs, viruses, chronic medical conditions, or environmental factors that may cause birth defects
  • Parents are close blood relatives
  • Couples where both partners are carriers of a genetic condition
  • You, your partner, your children, or any other family member has a genetic disorder, birth defect, or developmental delay.

We work closely with Family Practice and OB/GYN physicians, and nurse midwives in the community to help women and families in the Yakima Valley with their needs. Services are provided at University of Washington School of Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine at Virginia Mason Memorial clinic on the main hospital campus. Also available are MFM consults. We support each mother and family through education regarding their concern. Learning about the concern, receiving accurate information, learning about resources and support networks can be helpful for families with questions and worries. We help the family learn about options so that each family has the opportunity to make decisions that are best for them regarding various screening, diagnostic and genetic tests. Prenatal genetic counselors help you understand the risks, benefits, and limitations of prenatal tests you are considering and the results of tests you have already taken.

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Pediatric Genetics

Contact: (509) 574-3200

Pediatric genetics involves working with families of children with a wide range of genetic conditions, including chromosomal disorders, single gene disorders, and recognizable syndromes. Many times the child is the first in their family to have a genetic condition for a variety of reasons.

About twice a month, a Genetics Physician from Seattle comes to Children's Village to see children and families for genetic consultations. Physicians are faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children's Hospital. Each family will have met with a genetic counselor prior to being scheduled for this appointment. At visits, a comprehensive family history and medical history is taken and a physical examination is completed. Genetic testing is recommended for some conditions, but is not available or necessary for others. The family will partake in a discussion regarding the findings, diagnosis, and future plans for evaluation.

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Cancer Genetics

Contact: (509) 574-3595

At Virginia Mason Memorial, genetic counselors play a key role in the cancer risk assessment team at North Star Lodge and `Ohana. Although cancer is usually not inherited, it is important it to identify those families where it is, to assure appropriate care as provided.

Cancer risk consultation involves the following:

  • Collecting and confirming information about personal and family history of cancer
  • Identifying families with possible inherited predisposition to cancer syndrome
  • Discussing ways in which cancer risk can be modified
  • Discuss value of genetic testing and obtain insurance preauthorization if the patient is interested in testing

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Adult Genetics

Contact: (509) 575-8160

Adult genetics involves working with families with a wide variety of genetic conditions with onset occurring after childhood and adolescence. Examples of conditions are types of muscular dystrophy, Huntington's disease, hemochromatosis, blood clot disorders, heritable cardiac disorders, and more. We also see women/couples for preconception counseling or those with 3 or more pregnancy losses.

Most of this testing is predictive to determine if the person is at risk for developing that condition. For some conditions, this can be helpful to determine a health plan to take active steps to prevent or minimize the damage associated with the condition. For others, the client feels like this would be helpful for planning their future. Other clients choose to receive information on the condition but choose not to be tested. Like each person, each condition is unique. Meeting with a genetic counselor may help clarify the unique issues in your situation and the benefits and limitations of testing.

We work closely with the University of Washington to provide the recommended testing protocol for Huntington's disease.

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FAQS

Learn more about genetic counselors »

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How long will my visit be?

The length of your visit will depend on the reason you came and how many questions you have. Usually prenatal visits will be about 45 minutes to 1 hour while pediatric and cancer sessions may be 1.5 hours.

How do I get a referral to genetics?

While you don't necessarily need a physician referral, your insurance company might ask for one before they will pay. Also, it is better to have one before seeing the genetics doctor, if needed.

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