ROYAL OAK — Beaumont Health System’s Cancer Genetics program, in partnership with Covenant Community Care, has been selected by Genetic Alliance for a grant to implement a program to educate patients about the importance of family health history.

The “Does It Run In The Family?” toolkit combines family health history awareness and education to identify people at risk of cancer.

“Family health history is critical in helping to determine risks for many diseases, including cancer, allowing health care providers to personalize screening and treatment options,“ says Dana Zakalik, M.D., director of the Beaumont Cancer Genetics program. “That is why we thought it was important to apply for this grant. Our hope is that this toolkit will not only be implemented at Covenant, but will be incorporated into the day-to-day routine of clinics nationwide. This pilot program will be implemented at the Covenant Community Health Center in Royal Oak with plans to expand to other clinics.”

Each of the six centers selected for the grant will receive $40,000 to design and implement a customized family health history education toolkit with the goal of creating and sustaining awareness and discussion of family health history among health center providers, staff and patients.

Over the course of 15 months, Beaumont’s Cancer Genetics staff will work with Covenant to integrate family health history into the center’s daily operations and to evaluate the toolkit’s impact on provider, staff and patient knowledge and satisfaction. Each site will then provide recommendations for distributing the toolkit to other federally-funded health centers and other health care outlets across the country.

“Patients and caregivers need to understand the importance of family health history in promoting healthy behaviors and identifying risk factors,” says Marisa Abbo, D.O., physician-in-charge, Covenant Community Health Center, Royal Oak. “Our goal is to have the toolkit customized and implemented later this month.”

The Covenant Community Health Center, located at 27776 Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak, is the second federally qualified health center in Oakland County. The 3,800-square-foot center provides a place where everyone is welcome and where everyone in Oakland County can afford to be healthy under the care of a Beaumont doctor.

Genetic Alliance is the world’s leading nonprofit health advocacy organization committed to transforming health through genetics and promoting an environment of openness centered on the health of individuals, families, and communities. Genetic Alliance’s network includes more than 1,000 disease-specific advocacy organizations, as well as thousands of universities, private companies, government agencies, and public policy organizations. The network is a dynamic and growing open space for shared resources, creative tools, and innovative programs.


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