Commitment is in our Genes
Jessica Kenney has a unique role at Catholic Health; she asks patients a number of questions to learn about their family’s health history. As Manager of Clinical Genetic Counseling, Jessica helps to determine the patient’s genetic predisposition to future disease, or genetic diagnosis of a current disease.
“We construct a family tree going back at least three generations, all focused on the family’s health history,” said Jessica. “That allows us to make a scientifically informed assessment of the level of risk a patient may have for certain diseases. Based on that assessment, we can design preventive measures to guard against future disease, and/or the management of current disease. We want to help the patient stay in front of potential disease.”
Jessica started at Good Samaritan Hospital as a genetic counselor four year ago. In 2019, she was promoted to manager. Today, Jessica manages the multispecialty program, not only for Good Samaritan but also the oncology genetic services program for Mercy and St. Catherine of Siena hospitals.
“We’re helping people to understand their risk of cancer, thoracic aortic issues and several other health concerns,” said Jessica. “Our work is very team driven; we work closely with our colleagues in oncology, gynecology and women’s, breast services, pediatric, maternal fetal medicine, cardiothoracic and imaging services.”
Asked what she likes most about her work, Jessica is quick to respond. “Our employees. Catholic Health people care. They step up and extend themselves. I know I can depend on the people around me.”
Often a patient will be overwhelmed by the amount of genetic information that needs to be discussed. Jessica and her team need to be patient and supportive as they communicate difficult realities regarding a patient’s health risks.
“We’re there for our patients. We know what they go through on the emotional side and we stand with them,” said Jessica. “One thing I can say about the Catholic Health approach is that we see the patient as 3-dimensional. The spirit needs care as much as the body. We help them get through some difficult hurdles. And they thank us very sincerely. That’s when I know we’re making a difference.”