On one Saturday every April, Dr. Paul Steingard gathers his volunteer medical force and together they provide free physicals for almost 2000 high school students. The program is called TOPS (Team Osteopathic Physicals for Students). Sports physicals are a requirement to participate in high school sports and they can be costly, so Dr. Steingard started this program 30 years ago to make sure every student who wanted to play sports could. Then, several years ago Dr. Steingard became very concerned about athletes collapsing on the field from undetected heart problems. The condition, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), also known as Sudden Death, is a type of heart disease that primarily affects young people. He began a campaign to include electrocardiograms as a part of the student physicals and was able to borrow EKG equipment and get local cardiologists and technicians to volunteer their time. EKG testing was a start but there was no way to follow up on a questionable result at the test site. Dr Steingard convinced companies to also equip the event with echocardiograms to check students with suspicious EKGs on the spot and the group has already identified several children with the condition. Now, thanks to a grant, TOPS owns the EKG machines and is offering them to groups around the country who want to duplicate the program that was started in Phoenix. He is the force behind the program and every year, since the beginning, he has worked to make it better.
“I know that young lives are being saved and that means my time has been well spent,” says Dr. Steingard.