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Partnering to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Youth: Only One of a Kind Event in the State and Country Provided by Public Health

By Arlease Hall

October 31, 2017

The Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County (DOH-St. Lucie) has developed a national model to increase access to health care services through partnership with the Jessica Clinton MVP Foundation, a powerful advocate for preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and young athletes. On Saturday, November 4, 2017, the 7th Annual Know Your Heart Screening is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Larry J. Lee Public Health Building (health department) located at 5150 NW Milner Drive, Port St. Lucie, FL 34983. The comprehensive healthy heart check-up is free for students 5 to 20 years of age.

The upcoming screening for the 379 registrants includes an electrocardiogram (EKG), a physical and participants with an abnormal EKG or a high number of risk factors determined by a pediatric cardiologist will be given an echocardiogram. All services are provided on-site with the assistance of over 40 medical volunteers from as far south as Miami-Dade County. “This model links DOH-St. Lucie infrastructure with the passion of a non-profit foundation to benefit the community. It advances 2 of the 10 public health essential services - Mobilizing community partnerships to identify and solve health problems and Linking people to services and assuring health care, and we are the only county health department in the country that offers a “Free” one-stop shop for children to receive a complete healthy heart checkup,” said Clint Sperber, Health Officer and Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County.

The Jessica Clinton MVP Foundation single focus is preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and young athletes. Jessica died at her school following a cheerleading practice in 2003. She had a severe, undiagnosed heart condition known as Mitral Valve Prolapse. Her condition was not detected in routine physicals during her time as a cheerleader and her school did not have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on site. Jessica’s mother promised to keep her memory forever alive and to prevent similar tragedies from occurring by holding Know Your Heart Screenings and advocating for AEDs at all schools and parks.