St. Anthony’s Program Aims To Catch Heart Conditions Before Season

By Janee Law

jlaw@longislandergroup.com

St. Anthony’s student athletes learn first aid training at last week’s Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Program, which was conducted by the staff from St. Francis Hospital. Photo by Don Corrao

St. Anthony’s student athletes learn first aid training at last week’s Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Program, which was conducted by the staff from St. Francis Hospital. Photo by Don Corrao

Staff from St. Francis Hospital visited St. Anthony’s High School last week to host a pilot for the Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Program, where members of the high school’s varsity baseball team participated in individual cardiac screenings to catch any life threatening heart conditions.

“Unfortunately every year, you’re reading some sport where some kid who goes down and the postmortem is that there was some cardiac anomaly,” said baseball coach John Phelan. “It’s purely preventative if we can prevent one disaster and it was important for us starting the project.”

Dr. Sean Levchuck, chairman of pediatric cardiology at St. Francis who helped organize the screenings, said, “We had a wonderful turnout… This is a program that I’ve been running over six years now so it was nice to have these student athletes come on in and have their hearts evaluated and make sure that things are okay.”

With two months of planning, Levchuck said it was the first time hosting the program at St. Anthony’s, which was the biggest off site screening.

Levchuck said there are three ways to detect whether or not students have a heart condition. This includes gathering a detailed family and patient history, taking an EKG and an echocardiogram.

“To be able to prevent something that is a complete tragedy, which is sudden death in a child at this age, that’s really the greatest thing,” Levchuck said. His son, Conor, is on the St. Anthony’s baseball team.

The program was held on Feb. 3 and was free for all 30 of the student athletes who received individual screenings, as well as first aid training. They all “got a clean bill of health,” coach Phelan said.

Don Corrao, director of development for St. Anthony’s, said the program was “part of a continued effort... to provide the best environment for our students and our student athletes.”

Corrao said the program came together through Levchuck; Dr. Stephen DeSousa, who runs the St. Anthony’s sports medicine facility and is an East Northport physical therapy specialist; and Ed Modica, St. Anthony’s head trainer.

“It was a nice night because parents had accompanied their kids,” Corrao said. “[It was] a very valuable opportunity and while you hope that everybody passes with flying colors if you save one student from a potential health risk that’s a good thing.”

Although nothing is set yet, Corrao said St. Anthony’s hopes to continue hosting the program in the future.