Texas Health Resources Donates AEDs to 51 Low-Income Schools

Through its "Gift from the Heart" program, Texas Health Resources announced it is providing automated external defibrillators to 51 low-income schools throughout North Texas. THR, one of the largest faith-based, non-profit health care systems in the United States, said it is donating the AEDs to secondary schools located near its hospitals, which span eight counties including Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin. The donation comes as the company unites its longstanding community hospitals--Presbyterian, Harris Methodist, and Arlington Memorial--under Texas Health Resources, the system brand.

"In keeping with our non-profit mission to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve, we could think of no better way to share the coming of a new brand than to give back to our schools," said THR CEO Douglas D. Hawthorne, FACHE. "Our hope is that this gift will increase the chance of survival for students, faculty, and visitors who may suffer sudden cardiac arrest while at school or attending campus activities."

Starting Jan. 1, THR hospitals will become Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and Texas Health Arlington Memorial. Sign replacement will begin in November and continue throughout 2009.

The organization noted that more than 250,000 Americans of all ages die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, about 7,000 of them children and teens. THR said "Gift from the Heart" is one of many community benefit initiatives it undertakes, spending more than $450 million annually--the equivalent of more than $1 million a day--in charity care and community benefit.

"The presence of these AEDs will add another level of safety for everyone in our school buildings--students, faculty, staff, parents, and members of the community," said Jerry McCullough, interim superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District. The donated AEDs are designed to allow people with no medical training to respond to cardiac emergencies by giving a life-saving shock to restore the heart to its normal rhythm. The machines give detailed instructions and analyze the heart rate to determine whether a shock is needed. According to the American Heart Association, for every minute that passes between cardiac arrest and defibrillation, a person's chance of survival decreases up to 10 percent. Schools are required by law to have an AED available at all University Interscholastic League athletic practices and competitions. The presence of additional, strategically placed AEDs can reduce the time it takes to retrieve the life-saving devices.

THR said its goal is to deliver AEDs to all of the designated campuses during the fall semester and to train staff members to operate the devices. This staff education is designed to help people at each school feel confident about responding to an emergency. "Studies show that when AEDs are placed in public areas and are used quickly, then survival can be 50 to 75 percent or even greater," said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, M.D., who has spearheaded efforts to teach 10 percent of Arlington's population how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the next five years.

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