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Empowering Patients with Genetic Counseling

Category: St. Luke’s Proud
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St. Luke's launches new service

“I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare,” said St. Luke’s Genetic Counselor Delaney Pease, MS, CGC. “It was during my undergrad studies that I started looking into genetics. Immediately, I was fascinated.”

Genetics are the instructions for how bodies grow and function. These instructions are written in the DNA. Changes, or mutations, in a person’s genetics can cause health problems, like certain cancers or heart rhythm diseases. Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand how their genetics might impact their health and the health of any children they may have.

“Knowledge is power,” said Delaney. “The data received from genetic testing empowers patients and their providers. I truly believe that genetic testing and counseling are the future of healthcare.”

genetics counselor helps patient

Delaney’s journey in genetics

After completing her undergraduate studies, Delaney worked in the genetics laboratory at Mayo Clinic. There, she performed the actual genetic testing. Although this work was intellectually stimulating, Delaney wanted to work more directly with patients.

“I really loved it,” she said. “But I wanted to be the person who supported patients through the testing process, giving more direct patient care. That’s when I knew genetic counseling was right for me.”

With over two years of experience in the lab, she enrolled at the University of Minnesota to pursue her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling. Post-graduation, she was thrilled to hear of an opportunity to begin a genetics counseling service in Duluth at St. Luke’s.

“I’m from Duluth,” she said. “So, I am so happy to bring back everything I’ve learned and make a difference in a community I love. Plus, the prospect of starting a brand-new genetics program at St. Luke’s was incredibly appealing. It was a fresh slate to build something that is truly meaningful to me and will be beneficial to so many.”

genetic counselor at St. Luke's

What to expect during the process

Genetic counseling at St. Luke’s begins with a one-hour consultation. During this time, Delaney talks with patients about their genetics and health, exploring their personal and family history. This holistic approach enables her to identify crucial health risks unique to their genetic makeup.

Based on that information, Delaney shares available testing options, including their benefits and limitations. She also discusses the impacts of testing and the subsequent potential results. If the patient chooses to move forward with the testing, results typically take a few weeks to receive. Delaney then reviews the results with the patient.

“Medicine isn’t a one-size-fits-all,” Delaney said. “For some patients, genetic counseling can drastically impact what type of healthcare they receive.”

Genetic counseling at St. Luke’s

In Delaney’s eyes, St. Luke’s is doing more than merely introducing a new service by offering genetics counseling. It’s investing in what truly matters: their patients.

“In a world with rising healthcare costs and staffing shortages, I’ve been so impressed with St. Luke’s continued dedication to patients,” she said. “Offering this new service shows that this organization is committed to staying ahead in medical science and offering personalized care. I’m proud to be part of a team like that.”

Genetic counseling may be beneficial for a variety of individuals, including those with:

  • Family or personal history of cancer
  • Plans to become pregnant or currently pregnant
  • Family history of a known genetic condition
  • Physical differences, especially when paired with other medical issues (unique facial characteristics, birth defects, growth differences)
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Early-onset diseases that for most people happen later in life (like hearing loss)
  • Personal history of multiple uncommon health concerns
  • Moderate to severe intellectual disability

A referral is not required for this service. Learn more at

This article was originally featured on pages 32 & 33 in the March 2024 issue of The Woman Today magazine.