Screenings provided thanks to a partnership with the Providence Heart Institute
WOODLAND — Woodland High School partnered with the Providence Heart Institute (PHI) to offer youth heart and health screenings for Woodland students between 12-19 years old including height, weight, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) scans at no cost to the students or the school.
PHI started offering free youth health screenings after noticing a series of disturbing trends affecting students including heart attacks and other severe health issues.
“The number of young people with high blood pressure, heart issues, and other health concerns is alarming and concerning,” said Lydia Hibsch, Business and Community Development manager for the Providence Heart and Vascular Institute. “For the most part, these health issues result from a lack of physical activity, so we offer health screenings for all students, not just student athletes.”
The health screenings are completely free and are offered to any youth between 12-19 years old, not just students at the school PHI is visiting. “People are welcome to bring their students to any of the events we run regardless of which school district their students attend,” said Hibsch. “Our goal is to provide health screenings to every child who needs one.”
Julea Orem, a senior at Woodland High School, signed up for a free screening due to serious health issues in her past, “I had Hodgkin Lymphoma not too long ago so regular screenings are a way for me to stay updated on my own health,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect from this screening, but it was something good – it was very well-organized and the staff helped students feel comfortable the entire time.”
Vanessa Hansen, a junior, and her brother took part after their mother arranged for the screenings. “I think all students should take advantage of this program,” said Hansen. “Often, going to a doctor can be scary, but a health screening in a familiar environment like our school makes it much easier.”
Audrey Moir, a senior, signed up for heart screenings because of health issues found in her family. “I felt like I needed a screening because my cousin is waiting for a heart transplant and I wanted to stay updated on myself,” she said. “The staff were all very kind and careful; they didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all.”
Since the free program’s inception six years ago, PHI has screened more than 26,000 youth. “Often there are no advance signs or symptoms of heart conditions with most routine physical not picking up defects,” explained Hibsch. “An EKG is incredibly effective at uncovering signs of heart irregularities, however it’s a test not typically performed in ‘well-child’ checks or even sports physicals.”
Serious health issues were found in more than 6 percent of the screened students – 1,336 students so far – and those students received further follow-up and treatment thanks to the results of their health screening. “We’re just as concerned about students who are less active as we are about student athletes,” said Hibsch. “This service offers another level of health protection for our youngest population, helping them identify potentially life-threatening conditions and beginning treatment before they become serious.”
Schools have been extremely supportive of the program. “School nurses and athletic directors are ecstatic to have us come out and provide screenings,” said Hibsch. “Unfortunately, cardiac events are usually the catalyst for our first visit, however we’re starting to see that change now as health issues affecting young people gain awareness.”
For more information including upcoming health screenings and how you can donate to the program, visit the Providence Heart Institute playSmart Youth Heart Screenings website at: https://oregon.providence.org/html/playsmart/index.html
Information provided by Woodland School District.