CareSource partners with Who We Play For to provide lifesaving ECG screenings to even the playing field for Black athletes.
JACKSONVILLE, FL (September 5, 2023) -- CareSource, a nationally recognized nonprofit managed care organization, today announced its partnership with Who We Play For to provide advanced heart screenings to every HBCU (Historically Black College or University) athlete and interested students in Florida using an electrocardiogram (ECG). As part of a shared commitment to health equity, CareSource and Who We Play For have coordinated with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Florida Memorial University (FMU), Bethune-Cookman University and Edward Waters University to screen every athlete across all sports, as well as any interested students.
Black athletes are disproportionately at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death for student athletes during sports. With CareSource’s support, Who We Play For, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating sudden cardiac death among the young through heart screenings, AEDs and working with communities, will provide the staff, cardiology expertise and equipment to implement the cardiac screenings.
“While most professional, Olympic and notable collegiate athletes receive heart screenings as a standard of care, HBCUs sadly lack the resources to provide electrocardiograms for their athletes,” said Evan Ernst, Executive Director of Who We Play For. “Thanks to CareSource, we can screen and detect underlying heart conditions among these higher-risk athletes and potentially save lives on HBCU campuses across the state.”
Who We Play For will conduct heart screening events in September at all four HBCU campuses in Florida, including Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FMU in Miami Gardens and FAMU in Tallahassee. Excitement for the heart screenings is rapidly spreading beyond the athletic field to the student population. In fact, members of the historic marching bands at FAMU and Bethune-Cookman were the first to express interest in having their band members screened as well.
“The commitment CareSource extends to our members and to our communities includes taking an integrated approach to health equity,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer & Executive Vice President of CareSource. “As a physician and an HBCU alum, I am proud to work for an organization authentically vested in the health and well-being of Florida’s HBCU athletes and students.”
Today’s announcement furthers CareSource’s rich history of collaboration with and support for HBCUs. This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships, health initiatives, employee volunteerism, and recruitment efforts. HBCU alumni have integral leadership roles throughout the organization and on the executive management team.
More on Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the sudden loss of all heart activity due to an irregular heart rhythm. Studies have also shown that SCA is the leading medical cause of death in athletes. Incidents of SCA among high visibility African American athletes such as Bronny James and Damar Hamlin have increased national awareness for SCA and for the need for heart screenings for youth as well as for access to AEDs at schools and gyms across the nation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2,000 young people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year – many without previously known heart issues.
"One in 300 young persons have a potentially life-threatening, detectible heart condition," said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the head of the UW Medical Center for Sports Cardiology in Washington and Who We Play For Board Member. “The risk for a male, Black, Division 1, NCAA basketball player is 1 in 2000 per year. This is not rare.”
- SCA is the leading cause of death in sports
- SCA is the leading cause of death on school campuses
- SCA is the first symptom for 80% of athletes
- ECGs are the most effective tool to identify youth at risk for SCA
- Black athletes are disproportionately at risk for SCA
CareSource Florida Co. was formed to offer programs and products in the state of Florida. Providers seeking more information can visit imaginehealthierkids.com.
About Who We Play For
Based in Melbourne, Florida, Who We Play For is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of sudden cardiac death via cardiac screenings, along with CPR, AED and legislative advocacy. With a mission of eliminating preventable sudden cardiac death in the young, Who We Play For strives to inspire and empower schools, sports clubs, and communities to provide heart screenings for every student-athlete and student – no matter their level of athletics, socio-economic status or geographical location.