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Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind

Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind

in the spotlight
Meet Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind,
new AHA president
Nineteen years ago this month, neurologist Dr. Mitchell Elkind became the first recipient of the Kathleen Scott Research Fellowship — established by Bertram L. Scott in honor of his late wife, who died of a stroke. The grant funded Elkind’s exploration of the role inflammatory markers play in stroke risk as part of the landmark Northern Manhattan Study.

“That fellowship helped launch my research career and made me a lifelong volunteer of the American Heart Association,” Elkind said.

Fast forward to today, and the two men have come full circle as national leaders of the AHA, with Scott in his second year as chairman and Elkind the newly seated president.

“I couldn’t be happier to have him as a partner,” Scott said.

Elkind is a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York, where he also serves as chief of the Division of Neurology Clinical Outcomes Research and Population Sciences in the Department of Neurology. He has held numerous local and national volunteer positions at the AHA, most recently chairing the Advisory Committee of the American Stroke Association — an AHA division. He is editor of the Stroke journal’s new International Stroke Early Career and Training Section (InterSECT).

“Brain health,” he said, “has interesting and complex relationships to cardiovascular disease. I hope to bring more neuroscientists, both basic and clinical, into the association family.”

Elkind takes the helm during an unprecedented time as the coronavirus pandemic continues its deadly course, disproportionately devastating communities of color.

“My goal is to successfully steer the American Heart Association through the myriad complicated medical, economic and social difficulties that we face,” he said. “My fondest wish would be that we look back years from now and say that the association met the challenges posed by a global pandemic, which threatened everything we believe in, and responded with leadership, energy and integrity to save lives and improve quality of life for all.”

To get to know him better, watch now.

Veterans Affairs signs $46 million resuscitation training contract
The American Heart Association and RQI Partners, LLC have signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to deliver Resuscitation Quality Improvement (RQI) and HeartCode as its solution for resuscitation training.

RQI is a model of low-dose, high-frequency, simulation-based learning with quarterly verification of CPR knowledge and skills. By combining comprehensive online learning with hands-on skills practice and testing, HeartCode provides consistent, quality training at a customizable pace.

“The success of the VA contract — one of the AHA’s largest to date — is the result of relationship-building over many years and appointment of a dedicated customer team,” said John Meiners, AHA chief of Mission-Aligned Business. “Now, every health care provider in the VA system will be a part of the AHA resuscitation family and dedicated to saving more lives.”

Safety First: Scientific Sessions goes virtual
After months of thorough, thoughtful review and discussion, and with a continued commitment to the health and safety of participants and staff, the American Heart Association will present Scientific Sessions 2020 as a 100% virtual experience in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be held November 13-17, and registration opens in mid-August.

With a global reach of millions, Scientific Sessions is the premier event for scientific exchange, and the AHA’s Board of Directors and Committee on Scientific Sessions Programming promise a robust and meaningful virtual format.

“A virtual meeting will allow us to reach more people than ever, in real-time, with live chats that encourage meaningful dialogue,” said Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, chair of the Scientific Sessions Program Committee, AHA president-elect and a professor and chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Now through August 10, abstracts may be submitted here.

CPR certification class at the St. Louis Fire Department

St. Louis Cardinals sportswriter goes to bat for heart health
If not for the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball would be in full swing, and no one misses the game more than St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Derrick Goold.

But there is something else he looks forward to when the ballpark reopens — partnering with the American Heart Association to teach Hands-Only CPR to his industry peers.

The idea came about after he performed CPR on a photographer who collapsed during a press conference in the dugout at Busch Stadium last year.

“He fell to the ground,” Goold said. “Somewhere, under all the years of being a baseball writer, the muscle memory from Boy Scouts and lifeguarding was still there, and what to do came immediately to mind. So, I did it.”

He delivered compressions until EMTs arrived. The man survived and the event made national news, with Goold hailed as a hero.

In the days that followed, he and his colleagues realized many of them were not CPR-certified or had let their certification lapse.

“We discussed wanting to put together CPR training for baseball writers in St. Louis, Chicago and other chapters of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America,” he said. “It was my colleagues and peers that had the inspiration.”

In a moment of serendipity, Goold later met Solomon Alexander, husband of AHA communications director Madelyn Alexander. Solomon introduced Goold to Madelyn and, several emails later, the idea for collaboration took shape.

Before COVID-19 hit, they teamed up on one class well-attended by print and broadcast journalists, St. Louis Cardinals officials, Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) members and more.

“All got certified with the help of the AHA and the St. Louis Fire Department,” he said. “A few of us intend to get certified as instructors so we can go back to the newsroom and provide a certification class when it is safe to gather in large groups again.”

Meanwhile, Goold takes every opportunity to talk about the importance of CPR training – humbled and grateful that the man he helped that day is alive and home with his loved ones.

“We keep in touch via text,” he said. “He’s doing well. I am eager to be back in a dugout with him, covering the game we both love.”

Bertram L. Scott

AHA chairman calls for federal aid to larger nonprofits
During the first of four virtual Relief4Charities congressional briefings this week, American Heart Association Chairman Bertram L. Scott presented a compelling case for more financial support to charitable organizations. Nonprofits generate 5.4 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and employ 12 million people. Yet, during this time of unprecedented need, the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced 71% of larger nonprofits to reduce their services and available operations.

While provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provide loan forgiveness opportunities to smaller nonprofits, larger ones are ineligible for these programs.

“We urge Congress to take action in the next pandemic relief package that ensures mid-size nonprofits have access to forgivable loans,” Scott said. “We also ask that the Paycheck Protection Program be extended — with a set aside for nonprofits with more than 500 employees — to strengthen the sustainability of the nonprofit sector and its lifesaving work.”

Help urge your representatives to protect our lifesaving work. Act now.

Oklahoma sets precedence for pandemic-era Medicaid expansion
Following recent passage of State Question 802, Oklahoma became the first state to expand Medicaid coverage during the coronavirus pandemic. Once implemented, nearly 200,000 more adults in the state who are under 65 and earn $17,000 annually or less will have access to health coverage.

The American Heart Association and our Advocacy partners applaud this action, as the underserved and uninsured are disproportionately affected by heart disease, hypertension and stroke — all of which increase the risk of COVID-19 complications.

With this win, we turn our attention to Missouri, which will vote on the issue August 4. If it passes, Missouri will become the 2nd state during the pandemic and the 39th state overall — plus the District of Columbia — to expand Medicaid.

Dr. Mary Cushman

Award of Meritorious Achievement winner envisions more diversity
Over the last three decades, Dr. Mary Cushman has emerged as a national leader in cardiovascular health.

But the journey hasn’t been easy — she’s had to overcome more obstacles than most of her male counterparts.

“I’ve learned we’re not gender blind,” said Cushman, a hematologist and professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Vermont. “It’s nobody’s fault. Unconscious biases are just baked into you.

“But as we create a pipeline of future leaders, we have to make sure women in science overcome these biases and have every possible opportunity to grow their careers.”

Cushman’s contributions to the AHA in this area are why she’s the recipient of the 2020 Award of Meritorious Achievement. She’ll be honored during the association’s live stream event in October. More

Special Announcements
Sessions Daily News wins
Bronze Excel Award
Congratulations to the Sessions Daily News team for earning bronze honors in the 2020 Excel Awards, presented by Association Media and Publishing in the On-Site Convention Daily (print) category. The winning edition was distributed during the American Heart Association’s 2019 Scientific Sessions, the premier assembly of influencers in cardiovascular science and medicine.