By Paul Crocetti
Milford Daily News
August 28, 2007...The word of the day at Milford High School yesterday was "prevention."
Over the course of the day, representatives from Andover-based HeartScreen America tested 47 students with an electrocardiogram, blood pressure reading, body mass index calculation and heart health questionnaire.
The School Committee voted this month to offer the screenings to any students, with a focus on fall athletes at the high school, after School Committee member Paul Mazzuchelli brought up the idea at an earlier meeting.
Several parents and officials yesterday recalled recent deaths on the athletic field involving seemingly healthy student athletes.
Scott Ellmore said that the cousin of his daughter, Kristina, played sports with Nick Souza, the 14-year-old Medway student who died on the lacrosse field earlier this year.
"Having it hit this close to home, there was really no question," Ellmore said, as a technician tested his daughter, a soccer player in her sophomore year, in the adjacent classroom. "We were going to have it done."
The $49 testing fee is "reasonable," Ellmore said.
"You can't put a price tag on screenings," he said. "If something happens, how can you live with that? I thought it was a good idea, just as a safety measure."
The "widespread" news of sudden injury and death prompted Joan Callahan-Cormier to have her son, Devin, tested.
"It's one of those preventative measures," she said in one of the two screening areas, where Devin lay on his back, having an electrocardiogram conducted. "We're more curious about the results."
Parents eventually receive a letter with analysis of the tests, and they are urged to then share that information with a physician.
"It was pretty good - it didn't hurt," said Devin, a football player dressed in his uniform and ready to head back to practice. "It was very relaxing."
The screenings on average took about 10 minutes, but with some athletes who just came from practice, such as Devin, it took some time for them to cool down.
Ross Tenaglia, a senior at Milford High School who does track in the winter and spring, said he has had an electrocardiogram before.
"It was fine," Tenaglia said after the screening. "I knew the whole procedure."
State Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, came out to the high school yesterday to show encouragement for the screenings, he said.
"It's a good preventative measure," said Moore, the chairman of the Health Care Financing committee. "Paul Mazzuchelli and the School Committee, it's outstanding that they're being proactive."
Moore said he hopes the participants get the word out about the program.
"Health care is safer and less expensive when you use prevention," Moore said. "With the health reform law we passed, we encouraged prevention. We should be encouraging insurance companies to pay for these programs."
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