Telegenetics

Telegenetics and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Greenwood Genetic Center started providing telegenetics services in 2016 to improve access and convenience for patients. We have served hundreds of patients via telegenetics, and in this time of isolation and social distancing, we are using telegenetics
on a larger scale to provide clinical services to patients in their homes. This will allow us to safely serve the needs of our patients and their families during this uncertain time.

*We are not using telegenetics to evaluate patients for coronavirus. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness, like coronavirus, please contact your primary healthcare provider or use one of the virtual appointment options available here.

*For your safety and to ensure we are able to provide the best possible care, we will NOT conduct an appointment if you are driving. If you are driving during the scheduled appointment, we will immediately stop the call and you will be required to contact one of our offices to reschedule. Your safety and the safety of others is paramount.

What is telegenetics?

Telegenetics is the process of providing a genetics consultation and/or genetic counseling when the patient is in a different location than the healthcare provider using computers and personal devices such as smartphones or tablets. The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) strives to provide telegenetics appointments with the same high-quality level of care that patients receive in face-to-face visits.

What equipment do I need for a telegenetics visit?

You will need a device with a camera and a microphone. These devices include a smartphone, tablet, personal computer, or laptop. For appointments requiring a physical exam, a handheld device (smartphone or tablet) will likely work best. Internet access is also required through either Wi-Fi or a data plan. Data rates may apply.

What if I don’t have a mobile device or home internet?

For genetics consults, it is most often necessary for the provider to be able to physically see you/your child. If you do not have home internet service or a device with video capability, we may need to reschedule you for an in-person appointment, possibly for a later date. 

If your appointment is to review test results or the provider feels that they can serve you well via telephone, that may also be an option. 

How do I prepare for a telegenetics appointment?

 

  • Please plan to use a quiet space in your home for the appointment. This will allow us to be able to communicate more easily with you.
  • It is important that the patient be present for the appointment.
  • You must download the free Microsoft Teams app before your scheduled appointment time. You can download the free app here:
  • If the appropriate app has not been downloaded before your appointment time, your appointment will be rescheduled. 
  • You do not need to create a Microsoft Teams account, you can log in as a guest.
  • Please make sure your device is fully charged before the appointment.
  • You will receive a secure and unique link to connect by email approximately two days before your appointment. That message will also include more instructions and helpful tips to make the telegenetics visit successful.
  • Please log on to the app approximately 5-10 minutes before your appointment time. If you log on more than 15 minutes late, your appointment will be rescheduled.
  • Other than that, prepare for a telegenetics appointment just as you would for an in-person visit.
    • Gather information regarding your family medical history including health issues, learning problems, and genetic conditions.
    • Have a complete list of medications.
    • Have the names of current physicians or other healthcare providers.
    • Collect patient photos to share with the genetic providers. These can be helpful to the geneticist in looking for patterns of physical features.
    • Have a list of questions ready to make the most of your visit. 

What should I expect during the telegenetics appointment?

While each genetics appointment is unique, most patients will first be greeted by a GGC employee for check-in and to confirm your demographic and insurance information.
 
Next a genetic counselor or genetic assistant will talk with you about you/your child’s medical and family history. There will be a brief break as the genetic counselor or genetic assistant shares this information with the geneticist.
 
The geneticist will then join the appointment. They may ask more questions, and if a physical exam is required, they will ask you to assist using the camera on your device. For example, they may ask you to show a close-up image of your/your child’s face or any birthmarks, etc. The provider will walk you through any views that are needed. Just like an in-person visit, he or she will talk with you about their impressions, answer your questions, and will discuss any genetic testing that is suggested. 

Learn more about what to expect from your telegenetics visit here.

Is telegenetics covered by my insurance?

Telegenetics visits will be billed just like a typical office visit, and your insurance will be filed. You will not be billed any more than you would be for an in-person appointment.
 
If genetic testing is suggested, then additional laboratory charges may apply, depending upon your insurance. The cost associated with genetic testing will be discussed with you by your GGC provider before any testing is done.  

Is telegenetics secure?

The Greenwood Genetic Center follows patient privacy and security guidelines under HIPAA for all of our patients. Telegenetics visits are conducted through a  secure, encrypted channel, and any patient information gathered or transmitted through telegenetics is held to the same high standards of confidentiality that we use for in-person visits.

The Greenwood Genetic Center uses secure apps to communicate with you through a secure video link. These apps are HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms, so your personal health information is protected. Consumer video apps such as FaceTime or Skype are not secure for medical purposes.

What happens if I/my child needs genetic testing?

If genetic testing is suggested, the testing process will be explained by your provider. They will discuss cost, insurance coverage, and how long test results will take.
 
For most patients during this time, we are collecting samples through a cheek swab kit. The kit and paperwork will be shipped to you to collect at home. Detailed instructions on how to collect the sample and send it in for testing are provided here.
 
 
Thank you for your understanding during this time. Our providers are working hard to make sure that your telegenetics visit is as thorough and helpful as an in-person visit. If you have other questions before your appointment, please call the GGC office nearest you or review our ‘Telegenetics’ patient brochure (also available in Spanish)

 

 

Cancer Genetic Counseling

Most cancers are not hereditary. For those 5-10 percent of cancers that are passed from generation to generation, genetic cancer counseling can literally be a life-saver. The cancer genetic counseling service at the Greenwood Genetic Center begins with a careful evaluation of your medical and family history. If the counselor suspects that the cancer in your family is inherited they will discuss recommendations for cancer screening as well as the risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing.

Benefits of Genetic Cancer Counseling

Taking the steps to learn if you are at risk for hereditary cancers takes courage. Not every patient who receives a consultation decides to have genetic testing. For those that do, a negative result may bring relief and reduce the need for frequent checkups or other tests that individuals with a high risk of cancer typically undergo. However, a positive result can also bring a feeling of empowerment. Removing the uncertainty about your risk of cancer may lead to a healthier lifestyle with a focus on preventive measures.

The genetic counselors at GGC understand the experience can be an emotional one. We provide education, resources, and ongoing support as part of our commitment to patient care.

Who Should Receive Genetic Cancer Counseling?

You may benefit from cancer genetic counseling if:

  • You are under the age of 50 and have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian, colon, endometrial, or renal cancer.
  • You have multiple relatives with the same or related cancers.
  • You or a family member has been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer such as breast and ovarian, bilateral breast cancer or colon and endometrial cancer.
  • There has been cancer in more than one generation of your family.
  • You have a rare type of cancer that is more common in the other gender, such as breast cancer in a male.
  • You have breast or ovarian cancer and are a member of certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Ashkenazi Jewish.

It’s important to remember that participating in cancer genetic counseling does not obligate you to have genetic testing. The goal of genetic counseling is to provide accurate information about risk factors and to address your questions and concerns. And for those who do proceed with testing, a positive test is not a guarantee that cancer will develop. It is possible to test positive for gene mutation and still live cancer-free.

Learn more about cancer genetic counseling at the Greenwood Genetic Center by contacting our Greenwood office or fill out our contact form and we’ll reach out to you as quickly as possible.

Department of Disabilities & Special Needs (DDSN) Clinic

Understanding the cause of a disability or special need can lead to better treatments for that condition and improved resources for the family. The Disabilities and Special Needs Genetic Clinic at the Greenwood Genetic Center offers genetic evaluations for those served by the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN) with the goal of providing families with an accurate diagnosis, guidance for appropriate interventions and treatments, and information on medical issues, reproductive risks and future expectations.

Patients and families served by SCDDSN who would like to request a genetic evaluation should discuss a referral with their service coordinator or early interventionist. They may also call the Greenwood Genetic Center closest to them. GGC has offices and clinics throughout South Carolina.

What to Expect from the Disabilities and Special Needs Genetic Clinic

Genetic evaluation is simply one more tool that helps you get the best possible medical care for yourself or family member. The information gathered through genetic consultation can lead to finding treatments. Some disabilities affect physical health Genetic evaluation can provide referrals to the doctors who specialize in caring for people with a specific diagnosis. A consultation at the SCDDSN Clinic is like any medical appointment.

These suggestions may help you prepare for your consultation:

  • Allow approximately one hour for your appointment.
  • Bring your insurance, Medicaid or Medicare card. You will not be directly charged.
  • Be prepared to share information about your child’s or relative’s medical and family history, their birth and development.
  • Further testing may be suggested. If so, blood and/or urine samples may be collected at the appointment.

Please refer to our brochure, A Genetic Evaluation (English) or the Spanish version, for more information about scheduling a genetic evaluation. GGC serves patients throughout the state of South Carolina. Patients who have been referred through SCDDSN can make an appointment at the GGC office nearest their home.

For EIs, Caseworkers and other referring providers:

2020 In-service Training – Slides

2020 In-service Training – Video

General Genetics Clinic

Most people don’t know exactly what goes on at a general genetics clinic until they are in need of genetic services. The general genetics clinics held at each of the Greenwood Genetic Center’s five offices, located across South Carolina, offer comprehensive genetic evaluations for patients from birth through adulthood. A referral from a healthcare provider is required to make an appointment for genetic consultation. A primary physician, pediatrician or other healthcare specialist can make a referral for patients from South Carolina with symptoms of or concerns about a genetic disease.

Why Visit a General Genetics Clinic?

Patients and their families come to the Greenwood Genetic Center for a variety of reasons. The goal of genetics services is to help those who are at risk, or affected by a genetic disorder. In addition to testing, GGC provides genetic consultation, education and resources for those seeking treatment, management and support. Some of the common reasons for a genetics referral include:

  • Developmental delay
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
  • Birth defects
  • Growth delay
  • Any known or suspected genetic diagnosis
  • Family history of a known or suspected genetic condition

What to Expect at a General Genetics Clinic

The possibility of facing a genetic disorder is a stressful experience. The professional staff at GGC understands, and that is why we are dedicated to patient care. Our clinicians will guide you through every step, from consultation to management, if a disorder is diagnosed. The details of each appointment vary according the patient’s needs and concern, but the following process describes a typical visit to the general genetics clinic:

  • A clinical geneticist, service coordinator, or genetic counselor will meet with you to discuss the reason for your visit.
  • Your clinician will take a thorough personal health history and family health history.
  • You or your child may undergo a physical examination that may include taking photographs to document certain features for your medical record.
  • The clinician will discuss the findings of the consultation and the options available.
  • If appropriate, tests will be ordered.

If you have questions about the general genetics clinic at Greenwood Genetic Center, call the GGC office to which you have been referred or contact us now.

You can also review our ‘Preparing for Your Genetic Visit’ brochure, also available in Spanish.

Metabolic Genetics Clinic

Metabolic genetic diseases are a rare group of disorders that interrupt the normal function of the body’s metabolism. Some of these disorders are often referred to as inborn errors of metabolism.

The Greenwood Genetic Center is a non-profit organization serving the residents of South Carolina. The genetic clinicians and laboratory scientists involved in our metabolic genetic clinic provide services for patients and family members who have been affected by a metabolic genetic disease.

What is Metabolic Genetic Disease?

Metabolic diseases are genetic conditions that affect the way food and chemicals are broken down in the body. When an enzyme or protein is either missing from the body or does not function normally, a disorder or defect can occur. Inherited metabolic disorders affect both children and adults. Thousands of inherited metabolic diseases exist, and most are extremely rare.

Metabolic genetic disease should not be confused with metabolic genetic syndrome. The term “metabolic syndrome” is used to describe a cluster of risk factors that make a person more vulnerable to diseases such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

Types and Symptoms of Metabolic Genetic Disease

Children with recurrent, unexplained illness or progressive deterioration in their physical or mental status are often referred for a metabolic genetic evaluation.

Some genetic screenings are automatically provided when a child is born, through newborn screening, also known as the heel-prick test. Phenylketonuria or PKU is one example. Patients diagnosed with a metabolic disease through newborn screening are evaluated and followed in our metabolic clinic.

A metabolic genetic consultation at GGC goes beyond diagnosis. Our clinicians are dedicated to patient care and provide services including genetic counseling, genetic testing, dietary counseling and management, psychological evaluations, and ongoing treatment monitoring.

Symptoms that may alert a healthcare professional to the need for a metabolic genetics evaluation include:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Developmental delays
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Regression of development
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Seizures
  • Growth issues/Failure to thrive

Children and newborns are not the only ones at risk for metabolic genetic disease. Some disorders can present in later childhood or even adulthood. For example, mitochondrial disorders are caused by mutations in the mitochodria, the structures within the cells that metabolize the body’s energy, or by mutations that directly impact the mitochondria. Specific mitochondrial diseases include myoclonus epilepsy, Kearns-Sayre syndrome and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy.

What to Expect at the GGC Metabolic Genetics Clinic

During the consultation, a clinician will spend time asking and answering questions, taking a thorough family history and providing a physical examination, if needed. The clinician will discuss testing options and guide you through the testing process. You may also meet with a metabolic dietitian and/or a neuropsychologist during your visit. For more information about the Greenwood Genetic Center’s metabolic genetic clinic, contact a location near you.

Prenatal Genetic Counseling

Every mother-to-be understands there are inherent risks in pregnancy and birth. Thankfully, most of the risks are minimal, and most babies are born completely healthy. Occasionally, the risk for a genetic disease or birth defect is a reality. In those cases, prenatal genetic counseling services at the Greenwood Genetic Center can help.

Prenatal genetic counseling is a field of genetics that focuses on caring for families with concerns about the health of their unborn baby. A prenatal genetic counselor can suggest the appropriate tests for correct diagnosis as well as offer education, resources and support.

Reasons for Prenatal Genetic Counseling Referral

Appointments for counseling are made by referral from a healthcare professional. In some cases, symptoms experienced during pregnancy will prompt an obstetrician to refer the patient to GGC for a genetic consultation. Another reason for referral is if one or both of the parents-to-be have a family history of genetic disorder and want genetic counseling before deciding to have children. Specific concerns are not limited to, but may include:

  • Maternal age of 35 or older at delivery.
  • Couples with a family history of genetic disorder.
  • Positive prenatal screening test results.
  • Couples from an ethnic background known to be at higher risk for genetic disorders (such as sickle cell anemia or Tay Sachs disease).
  • Prenatal ultrasound findings.
  • Personal history of two or more pregnancy losses.
  • Family history of birth defects, a genetic disorder or intellectual disabilities.
  • Couples who are blood relatives.
  • Prenatal exposure to illegal drugs, alcohol, chemicals, infections or certain medications.

How to Prepare for Prenatal Genetic Counseling

The first thing to remember if you are referred for prenatal genetic counseling, is that a counseling appointment is only the first step in the process of confirming a diagnosis or detecting a complication. During your counseling session, your counselor will review your family, personal health and pregnancy history. He or she will explain any risks or conditions and help guide you through the testing process, if tests are offered.

At the Greenwood Genetic Center, our prenatal genetic counselors are health professionals with expertise in the field of prenatal medical genetics. They work closely with OB-GYNs and maternal fetal medicine specialists and, like all of our staff, genetic counselors and clinicians at GGC, are committed to patient care.

Follow these suggestions to help your counseling appointment go more smoothly:

  • Bring a list of all prescription medications, supplements and medications you take.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your family’s health history.
  • Family photos may help your counselor recognize patterns of genetic conditions in your family.

For more information about prenatal genetic counseling, please read our patient education brochures: Prenatal Genetic Counseling and Prenatal Screening and Testing.

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Specialty Clinics

The term “specialty clinics” can be confusing when referring to genetic counseling and testing. The entire field of genetics is a medical specialty.

At the Greenwood Genetic Center, we offer several genetics clinics that focus on one area of genetic medicine including General Genetics Clinic, Prenatal Clinic, Cancer Clinic and Metabolic Clinic

However, many genetic disorders are extremely complex and affect more than one area of a patient’s health and well-being. In these cases, a specialty clinic may provide the most comprehensive level of care. The genetic counselors and geneticists who participate in GGC specialty clinics work together with professionals from other specialties to provide a more convenient and cohesive experience for patients and their families.

Specialty Clinics Offer Benefits for Some Patients

In a specialty clinic, a patient can meet with and be evaluated by more than one specialist during a single visit. It is not necessary to visit multiple clinics in various locations to get the care that is needed. This type of collaboration not only reduces stress on the patient, it supports collaboration between the patient’s physicians and other healthcare specialists. When all consultations are completed in one clinic on the same day, patients can more easily get all their questions answered and discuss appropriate follow-up and treatment measures with all their clinicians.

Our specialty clinics includes:

  • Craniofacial Clinic: Columbia and Greenville Offices
  • MDA Clinic: Greenville Office
  • Neurodevelopmental Genetics (NDG) Clinic: Greenville Office
  • Rett Syndrome Clinic: Greenville Office
  • Shriner’s Hospital Clinic: Greenville Office
  • Shriner’s Tone Management Clinic: Greenville Office
  • Down Syndrome Clinic: Columbia Office
  • Fragile X Syndrome Clinic: Greenville Office or via telegenetics

For more information about specialty clinics at the Greenwood Genetic Center, contact our offices in Greenville or Columbia.

Meet Ella

We will remember February 26th for the rest of our lives. On that day, we received the call from the Greenwood Genetic Center that they had discovered our daughter, Ella Marie, has Kleefstra syndrome. Very early on, my wife, Kelly, observed Ella being delayed in some of her milestones. Kelly monitored Ella’s progression and sought out testing in an effort to get Ella some assistance. Along the way, we were sent to GGC and met with LEARN MORE

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