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updated: 3/28/2013 10:52 AM

NCH adds genetic counselor

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Northwest Community Healthcare

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (March 28, 2013) -- Northwest Community Healthcare's genetic counseling program welcomes a new member who is helping patients and their families identify and manage their hereditary risks of developing cancer.

Avis Gibons, MS, CGC, a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor with experience in both clinical and research settings, is now serving patients whose personal or family medical histories indicate an increased risk of developing cancer. In her role, Gibons meets with patients to review personal and family medical histories, assesses patients' risks of developing cancer, coordinates genetic testing and discusses results, and presents cancer screening and risk reduction options.

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"We are thrilled that Avis has joined NCH's genetic counseling team," Keith Ammons, director of cancer services at NCH, says. "Her previous experience will be an asset to the genetic counseling team."

Before joining NCH, Gibons served as genetic counselor at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Chicago, where she assisted in establishing a formal high-risk cancer genetics clinic. Dedicated to raising awareness about genetic contributions to disease, she also has designed human genetics course curriculum for clinical research professionals, presented seminars in genetics to community members, and delivered continuing medical education in cancer risk assessment and hereditary cancer syndromes to healthcare providers. Gibons has completed a certificate in clinical cancer genetics from City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Gibons is an adjunct faculty member in the Division of Science and Health Careers at Oakton Community College, where she prepares students for careers in medicine and health sciences. Her research on the impact of genetic medicine on the employer-based healthcare system and on coverage and reimbursement of genetic tests and services has been cited in a report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gibons says that the multidisciplinary Commission on Cancer, established by the American College of Surgeons, considers genetic counseling a standard of service necessary to ensure quality and comprehensive cancer care delivery. By helping to identify patients at increased risk of developing cancer, genetic counseling can have dramatic effects on early detection and cancer outcome. In addition, genetic counseling empowers patients to make informed decisions about cancer screening, cancer prevention and genetic testing.

The NCH Genetic Counseling Team has more than 20 years of experience providing genetic counseling, including review of medical history, assessment of cancer risk, and consideration of early detection and risk reduction options. For more information, visit www.nch.org/genes.

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About Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH)

Serving Chicago's northwest suburbs since 1959, NCH is a comprehensive, patient-centered system of care that serves more than 350,000 outpatients each year, as well as nearly 30,000 inpatients treated annually at the 496-bed acute care hospital in Arlington Heights. The award-winning hospital holds the prestigious Magnet designation for nursing excellence, is designated as a Primary Stroke Center, earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval in 2011, and was awarded the Leapfrog Group's designation as one of the nation's Top Hospitals based on quality and safety criteria. NCH has four Immediate Care locations in the northwest suburbs and operates a FastCare Clinic in Palatine. NCH has a medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians, which includes the board-certified primary care doctors and specialists of the NCH Medical Group. For more information or to find a doctor on the NCH Medical staff, visit www.nch.org.

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