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Lankenau Heart Institute physician partners with local fire company to combat greatest risk of death

Paoli Hospital October 22, 2013 News Releases

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 50 percent of fatalities among firefighters are due to a cardiac issue, not a fire-related injury. Because of this staggering statistic, Donald Ferrari, DO, Lankenau Heart Institute cardiologist at Paoli Hospital, is proactively screening the firefighters of West Whiteland Fire Department in Exton.

“Firefighters put their heart and soul into the heroic work they do in our communities, and they deserve access to superior health care to ensure their hearts are the healthiest they can be,” says Dr. Ferrari.

Dr. Ferrari was approached with the request for help by Dr. Joe Denham, a pediatric anesthesiologist who sits on the fire department’s board of directors, and Bud Turner, the department’s Fire Chief. “After the recent death of a firefighter in our neighboring fire department, who had a heart attack and was only in his mid 30s, we decided to do some research and came across that frightening statistic,” says Dr. Denham. “I immediately turned to Main Line Health with my plan because of their effective community outreach programs. I knew that by helping our firefighters' health, our community would directly benefit.”

To introduce the concept of cardiac screening to the members of their fire department, Dr. Ferrari was invited to speak at one of their regular meetings. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, Main Line HealthCare, Main Line Health’s multi-specialty network of physicians, got involved to offer special pricing for preventative screenings and treatment.

The program, which is voluntary for the fire department members, consists of individual screenings in Dr. Ferrari’s office. Prior to the appointment, one of fire department’s paramedics performs an EKG that is sent to Dr. Ferrari’s office. As part of the screening, the firefighters receive a lipid profile and glucose test, a review of medical history, a physical, and the evaluation of their EKG results. After their risk is calculated, either healthy lifestyle reinforcements or further screening tests are recommended—based on their level of risk.

“It’s truly an honor to help these heroes,” adds Dr. Ferrari. “Faced with the stresses and dangers of fires and emergency situations every day, it’s important that their health remains just as important as their life-saving actions for those in our community.”

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.

At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Main Line Health system also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence, the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award, and recognition as among the nation’s best employers by Forbes magazine. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

About Lankenau Heart Institute

The Lankenau Heart Institute is Main Line Health’s premier, comprehensive cardiovascular medicine and surgery program. The Lankenau Heart Institute brings together the clinical expertise of all four Main Line Health acute care hospitals and community cardiology practices to ensure that patients receive a level of quality, service, and experience that is unprecedented in the region. Through the system-wide coordination of services, the Lankenau Heart Institute delivers preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, and rehabilitative cardiovascular services at each of our locations including Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital.

With a collaborative team of expert consultative cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and specially trained nurses and technologists, the Lankenau Heart Institute is dedicated to managing and treating patients with heart failure, aortic disease, coronary and peripheral vascular disease, heart rhythm disorders and valve disease. Our team of cardiologists and cardiac specialists provide patients and their families with expert cardiac care, close to home.


Bridget Therriault
Director, Communications
Office: 484.580.1025
Cell: 484.222.9154