A Primary Assist for Health of Flyers Alumni




One of the key goals of the Flyers Alumni Association, along with serving the Delaware Valley Community, is to work on behalf of the well-being of our members. Last year, we unveiled the first facet of a major health initiative on behalf of Flyers Alumni: full access to the Executive Great Life Program at Jefferson Health’s Marcus Institute of Integrative Health.


Within the next few days, we will announce the launch of a second major initiative. Combined, the two will make the health-related services provided to the Flyers Alumni among the most comprehensive, proactive and streamlined among similar organizations in the United States and Canada.

The Great Life Program is an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted approach to helping people optimize their health and quality of life. In addition to the standard information gathering and examinations of a head-to-toe physical by a nurse and physician, the Marcus Institute program incorporates specialists in nutrition, exercise physiology and psychology. The program which is customized to the needs of each individual patient is designed to:

  • ·          Discover potential health problems.
  • ·         Target, reduce or eliminate initial medical risk factors.
  • ·         Foster comprehensive access to expert care for illnesses and/or injuries.
  • ·         Promote wellness in nutrition, fitness, stress management and mental health.

The initial evaluation takes about five hours to complete. Brad Marsh, the Flyers Alumni Association president, underwent his evaluation last year. He strongly believes it was well-spent time.


If I can get on top of something, or ahead of something, I want to know what it is and what I can do about it,” said Marsh, who will turn 60 on March 31, 2018. “What can I do to keep riding my bike well into my 60s, 70s, 80s and so on?


Nearly a decade ago, Marsh underwent major lifestyle changes to recommit himself to improving his health and fitness levels that had deteriorated in the years following his NHL playing career. In particular, he became a long-distance bicycling devotee and underwent major positive changes in his daily dietary habits. Nevertheless, he realized that he was not immune to future health problems, and felt it was an easy choice to take advantage of the Great Life Program.


At the end of the day, if everyone was a little more proactive, we’d save the health system so much money. Just as important is maintaining our quality of life. We all need to be healthy to live our lives in a fulfilling way. In whatever walk of life we come from, plain and simple, we need our health to stay active to do the things that are important to us. We also need our health for the things we sometimes too easily take for granted, like being there to enjoy our kids, grandkids, and what have you.”


The Philadelphia Flyers, starting with club president Paul Holmgren (himself a board member on the Flyers Alumni) and other key figures within the organization, have been supportive of the Flyers Alumni’s venture. Holmgren, too, underwent an evaluation at Marcus Institute, although he confesses he was initially reluctant to take part.


I was a little skeptical, like why do I need to supplement a yearly physical through a doctor I’ve known for a number of years? Then I started to hear the feedback from some of my Alumni friends. The feedback I was getting is that this is like a physical on steroids,” Holmgren said.


The specifics of each evaluation differ but a typical process may include many of the following as required: a detailed medical history and head-to-toe physical exam, laboratory testing, vaccinations, comprehensive cardiac health evaluation, visual health testing, hearing tests, pulmonary health evaluation, and/or diagnostic imaging.


The laboratory testing battery encompasses a broad spectrum of diagnostic services. It may include a complete blood cell count, cholesterol and lipid profiles, C-reactive protein testing to determine heart disease risk, urinalysis to screen for issues that could potentially be related to diabetes or kidney problems, blood chemistry profiles to screen for potential thyroid or liver issues as well as diabetes and prostate-specific antigen test to screen for major prostate cancer risk factors.


Just as with the general population, the health profiles and post-career physical activity levels of Flyers Alumni vary widely, and the Great Life Program is tailored to each person’s age, specific medical history and the diagnostic findings of the evaluations.


However, although many Flyers Alumni have stayed physically active after their pro hockey playing careers, this does not automatically safeguard against a variety of potential life-threatening issues. Correspondingly, one of the key components of the Great Life Program diagnostics is the cardiac health evaluation.

Marcus_2_Briere.JPGFor example, even participating Flyers Alumni such as Danny Briere – who keeps himself in excellent physical condition at age 40 – underwent a cardiac stress test while running on a treadmill. The electrocardiogram (ECG) taken while undergoing treadmill exercise helps clinicians to screen for a variety of serious issues that may never have been previously detected, ranging from coronary artery disease, an irregular heart beat and emerging or existing concerns with high blood pressure.


Following the initial screenings, Flyers Alumni had access to follow-up services to come up with strategies to safeguard their health. As needed, participants had access to specialized resources that deal with areas of concern.


Bob “the Hound” Kelly is among the Flyers Alumni who feels that, if someone has access to resources such as the Marcus Institute program, it behooves the person to make the time to undergo the evaluation regardless of how busy his or her typical schedule.


The program was set up with the idea that CEOs and other executives at companies can look after their own health. If they have the resources, they should go get themselves checked. It’s something that benefits their company, benefits them and benefits their family. I think it’s a great thing that the Flyers Alumni were able to take advantage of the program, too,” Kelly said.