WEIRTON - One student-athlete dies every three days in the United States from a sudden heart-related incident.
That's a statistic Weirton Medical Center and its partner for a better community, WesBanco, are looking to change by offering free EKGs and sports physicals to local student-athletes. The program is the first in the area and one of a few such initiatives in the country.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the biggest killer of young athletes, and it is preventable - it's believed nearly 70 percent of unknown, concealed heart issues could be detected in electrocardiograms, officials explained.
On June 8 in the WMC Atrium, WMC physicians will perform free physicals and WMC EKG technicians will provide free EKGs. Both require parental consent. Drs. Stanley Mannino and Cherian John, cardiologists, will read each report. If an abnormality is detected, parents will be notified.
"We are very excited to bring this to our local youth. I can think of nothing more important than protecting the health of our families, our friends and our community. This is our mission, our true heart-felt commitment, and to have WesBanco as a partner in this initiative is exciting and speaks volumes about its commitment to local youth," said David Artman, WMC's chief operating officer.
Drs. John Mitchell, Krzysztof Kubicki and Elizabeth Massella will perform the free athletic physical exams to students of Weir High School, Madonna High School, Brooke High School, Oak Glen High School, Burgettstown High School, Weir Middle School, St. Joseph and St. Paul Grade Schools, Wellsburg Middle School, Oak Glen Middle School, Burgettstown Middle School, South Side (Beaver) High School and Middle School and West Allegheny High School and Middle School.
West Virginia students must bring the state Secondary School Activities Commission athletic participation- parental consent-physician certificate form, which must be completed and signed by the parent (Part II and Part III). Pennsylvania students must bring their completed PIAA comprehensive initial evaluation-pre-participation physical Sections 1-6, 8 completed.
These forms can be obtained at the student's school office or athletic department. Extra forms will be available on June 8, but the form must be completed and signed by a parent or guardian before the student can receive his or her physical. The EKG consent forms must also be signed by a parent or guardian prior to the screening. These forms can be obtained by visiting the Weirton Medical Center Facebook page. Parents are asked to accompany their children. Advanced registration is not required. The physicals are on first-come, first-served basis, according to the allotted time for each school according to the following schedule: Brooke County schools, 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Weir High and Middle schools, Madonna, St. Joseph and St. Paul, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Oak Glen schools and Burgettstown schools, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; and West Allegheny and South Side Beaver schools, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The physicals are good for the entire school year, even if a student participates in more than one sport. For information, contact the WMC at (304) 797-6325 or (304) 797-6046.