MORRIS – Morris Hospital will be returning to several area high schools with its free Rhythm of Our Youth cardiac screening program during the fall semester.
The purpose of the screening is to prevent sudden cardiac death in area high school students by identifying those who may have undiagnosed existing cardiac abnormalities.
The program launched in 2016 with funding provided by generous donors to the Morris Hospital Foundation. Over the past two years, volunteers from Morris Hospital have screened more than 4,500 students.
This fall, Rhythm of Our Youth
cardiac screenings will be held at
Gardner-South Wilmington High School on Aug. 29; Coal City High School on Sept. 11; Morris High School on Sept. 18; Newark High School on Oct. 10; and Seneca High School on Nov. 27. Screenings typically are held during P.E. class or study hall.
The 2018-19 schedule also includes the Minooka High School south campus on Feb. 5 and 6; Premier Academy on Feb. 13; and the Minooka High School central campus Feb. 20 and 21.
On the screening days, a team of specially trained volunteers from Morris Hospital perform electrocardiogram screenings free of charge to students who have received parental permission to participate.
An electrocardiogram is a noninvasive, painless test that measures the electrical activity of the heart and detects certain heart abnormalities that can lead to sudden cardiac death. The test takes about three minutes to complete.
Based on results of the screenings, about 3 percent of students are referred to their physician for additional follow-up. Typically, less than 1 percent are found to have a medical problem that requires cardiac intervention.
Results then will be sent home to the student’s parents, and the results are not shared with the school.
Last school year, the Rhythm of Our Youth screening was conducted at Ottawa Marquette, Dwight, Yorkville, Yorkville Academy, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, and Ottawa high schools. Morris Hospital Rhythm of Our Youth volunteers will return to these schools during the 2019-20 school year.
Jori Christensen, director of Cardiovascular Services at Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers, said that the EKG screening offered through Rhythm of Our Youth can offer clues to underlying heart problems.
“Sudden cardiac death claims more than 2,000 lives of children and adolescents in the United States each year,” Christensen said. “Most victims of sudden cardiac death have had underlying heart conditions that could have been detected through a simple ECG. Our goal is to help identify students who may have an undiagnosed heart problem before a serious incident occurs.”
Parents should complete an electronic consent form before the screening day at their child’s school by going to www.morrishospital.org/rhythmofouryouth.
Volunteers are needed on each screening date and must be at least
18 years old, pass a background check and attend a mandatory training session.
To volunteer at the screening, call 815-705-7022 or complete the volunteer sign-up form at morrishospital.org/rhythmofouryouth.