A growing cloud of uncertainty hovers above the high school athlete. At an ever-increasing rate, students have to contend with the possibility injury, or sometimes a condition that is even more serious.
That’s why Copley-Fairlawn High School is hosting a heart screening Oct. 24 in the high school auditorium between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. They are partnering with Columbus based start-up company mCore Heart Screenings, who will conduct the screenings for $75 a person. Their main target are athletes, who have been, in the past few years, collapsing on the basketball courts and football fields due to heart irregularities. This is the second screening; the first one was in the spring.
Company technicians will conduct electrocardiograms, which analyze the electrical signals to the heart, and echocardiograms, that check for any physical problems.
The hope is that this will curtail tragedies such as the one at Kent Roosevelt High School in April, where a 15-year-old basketball player collapsed during a basketball game.
The tests are not mandatory. School officials only inform parents of the screenings.
“We put it out there, but it is a voluntary process,” said Copley High School Principal Matt Young.
According to school officials, the district is not in charge of the screenings, they are only providing a location.
If a heart defect is detected during the mCore screening, the family is notified. From that point they can check with a cardiologist. Normally, the findings are confidential, but if the defect is serious enough the school will automatically be informed said company representative Bart Letcavits.
Copley-Fairlawn Athletic Director Jim Borchik hails the screenings as a relief for parents of athletes.
“It gives parents a piece of mind that your child is safe to participate in these activities,” Borchik said. “A lot of these heart defects go undetected, and so this is a thorough screening which allows you to feel more comfortable with your child’s participation in strenuous activity.”
Letcavits is adamant the company can make life easier for student athletes. He said their screening program act as a safe guard for students who slip through the cracks of normal physicals.
“There’s nothing wrong with the physicals we currently give our kids,” Letcavits said. “But all they do is take out a stethoscope and listen to your heart, and that’s not going to catch any of the abnormalities we are talking about.”
According to the company’s research, 90 percent of high school athlete deaths are caused by sudden cardiac death, which is a breakdown of the heart’s electrical system, causing it to stop working.
Letcavits presented mCore’s plan to eight members of the suburban league last year. Copley High School jumped on board when it noticed the success it was having at other schools said Borchik.
“A couple of school’s did it and thought it was great,” Borchik said. “They caught a few heart defects in some of the kids, so our superintendent thought it would be a great service for our community.”
There are a limited number of slots open for the 15-minute screenings. Letcavits said they are screening between 30 to 35 students, but remains flexible. If the demand for screenings increases, they will accommodate the students, he said.
“We will stay at a school as long as they need us to be there,” Letcavits said. “We don’t just say it is one day event and we’re gone.”
He is also confident the $75 is a good deal. Officials at Akron General agreed. According to hospital records, the price for an electrocardiogram is $1,400 without insurance.
Although saving lives is mCore’s mission, its ambitions go beyond current boarders. Letcavits admits the company wants to be the first in line when and if heart screenings become mandatory. And he might get his wish, considering Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law mandatory heart screenings for infants in June.
But Principal Young is optimistic about the partnership with mCore. He said it can only help.
“There will continue to be individuals out there that may have undetected heart conditions,” Young said. “We don’t know who these individuals are so we’d rather be proactive”
According to a list provided by Letcavits Copley is the only school in Summit County offering screenings. For registration and a list of other schools participating visit the website at mcoreathletes.com.