Scientific Sessions: Eastern States Honored Guests Experience

In June 2024, the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, celebrates 100 years of being a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Through the support, dedication and commitment of volunteers across the nation, the Association’s next 100 years, also known as its Second Century, is bright.

On the second morning of the Association’s 96th annual Scientific Sessions, leaders gathered intimately for the Eastern States Honored Guests experience, sponsored by Jefferson Health.

There was no need for an ice breaker due to the ripple effect of a “Go Birds!” comment welcoming everyone to Philadelphia for the prestigious conference and the interactive experience of a Hands-Only mobile CPR kiosk, which featured a leader board and the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, the first song listed on the Association’s latest CPR playlist, along with other tunes that are between 100 – 120 beats per minute, the same rate at which you should perform compressions when administering CPR.

Following a warm welcome from Bill Thompsen, Senior Vice President, Health Strategies, Eastern States, Kelly Grose, Executive Vice President, Eastern States, Sarah E. Bouchard, J.D., Greater Philadelphia Board of Directors Chair, Helene Glassberg, M.D., Greater Philadelphia Board of Directors President, Sandy Volpe, Eastern States Region Board of Directors Chair, Leonard Y. Lee, M.D. Eastern States Region Board of Directors President, and Dixie James, Greater Philadelphia Board of Directors Immediate Past Chair, esteemed guests were joined by Keith Churchwell, M.D., FACC. FAHA. FACP, President-Elect, American Heart Association National Board of Directors who led a panel discussion featuring Lee Goldberg, M.D., MPH, Leonard Y. Lee, M.D., Nour Makarem, Ph.D. and Dwayne Wharton, M.Ed.

Before beginning a discussion rooted in science, technology, social determinants of health and the future of cardiovascular disease and stroke, Dr. Churchwell acknowledged two students, Kenneth Mosquera-Reinoso and Jeffrey Yumbla, both of whom study at Montclair State University in New Jersey and participate in the Hispanic Serving Institution Scholars program.

The panel discussion centered primarily around the American Heart Association’s foundational work in research and health equity and how it impacts each aspect of our mission.

Dr. Lee began by sharing the importance of Scientific Sessions and how it leads to improved healthcare across the country. He highlighted the importance of American Heart Association established programming such as Get with the Guidelines, a culmination of quality improvement & registry programs to help hospitals accomplish more before sharing that “coronary bypass surgery is the #1 performed surgery in the country” provoking the thoughts of the audience and other panelists on what can be done about this alarming and concerning information.

Dr. Nour focused on sharing her perspective as an immigrant, who came to the U.S. to complete her Ph.D., and emphasized the importance and thanks to the American Heart Association for their inclusive criteria in grant funding. Her latest work shines a light on the importance of sleep as the added component for overall heart health featured in the American Heart Association’s Life Essential 8.

Dr. Goldberg echoed the sentiments of Dr. Lee and dove deep into his point of view as Section Chief, how to collaboratively improve the areas in which hospitals fall short in Get with the Guidelines rankings as well as acknowledging what barriers may have come into play related to their scoring.

Finally, Dr. Wharton touched on how to optimize inclusion and diverse populations, while finding creative ways to improve health outcomes and increase education and access surrounding healthy eating and emergency preparedness in communities which historically haven’t had any.

The experience ended with the consensus of hope and positivity towards working to achieve the Association’s 2024 impact goal that states, “Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. As champions for health equity, by 2024, the American Heart Association will advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.” Together, guests joined in a celebratory toast led by Thom Harvey, chairman and CEO of Harvey Hanna & Associates, American Heart Association Delaware Board Chair, creator of the Harvey and Hanna Family Healthy Hearts Initiative and donor of the single largest gift to the American Heart Association Delaware ($1 million). Harvey tearfully asked guests to hold their “why” closely and securely, while profoundly believing that any one individual could make the next great discovery that could save thousands of lives.

The Eastern States Honored Guest experience brought passion and purpose together, bringing energy and electricity to the forefront of the great work showcased from researchers, scientists, clinicians and physicians from near and far for the annual Scientific Sessions.