Partner Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Benjamin Abella

February 21, 2020

February 20, 2020

The Health Care Improvement Foundation’s (HCIF) Partner Profiles highlight the efforts of valued and innovative health leaders. Our partners’ work supports HCIF’s vision for a responsive, coordinated health care community that fulfills the needs of patients and consumers to achieve better health.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil, is the Director of Center for Resuscitation Science at Penn Medicine, as well the Medical Director for Mobile CPR Project, a partner of the CPR Ready coalition. February is Heart Month, the perfect time to learn more about efforts to spread hands-only CPR training in Philadelphia.

How did you become interested in addressing sudden cardiac arrest?

During my medical residency training, I responded to many cardiac arrests in the hospital. These were dramatic, stressful, and ultimately sad events – as most of the victims died. It made a huge impression on me; I kept thinking “why are these events so chaotic? Why aren’t we discussing what we did well or poorly? These victims are in the hospital with the best care available, why do most of them die?”  The more I investigated the topic, the more I realized that there were so many more questions to answer surrounding cardiac arrest, and so much potential to improve care and survival.

What is one thing you think people should know about hands-only CPR training?

Hands-only CPR training is relatively easy and can make a huge impact. I have seen numerous success stories where hands-only CPR was delivered, and arrest victims made full recoveries.

How has CPR Ready impacted Southeastern Pennsylvania, and how have collaborative partnerships contributed to its success?

CPR Ready has achieved the important goal of starting the conversation. In most US cities, including Philadelphia, cardiac arrest awareness and training is disjointed. Individual organizations cancertainly make an impact, but messaging is always stronger when we come together with one voice and a coordinated approach. One key advantage of CPR Ready is our ability to share human resources in a coordinated fashion – for example, our Mobile CPR Project training team has partnered with city leaders and HCIF personnel for larger training events.

What have you found most valuable about working with HCIF? What’s something you’ve learned from our partnership?

I have been impressed by HCIF’s desire to be broad, inclusive, and supportive. Their connections and knowledge of Philadelphia-area organizations and stakeholders has been crucial.

What’s a quote that inspires you in your work?

“90 percent of success in life is showing up.” The work of CPR training isn’t rocket science, it doesn’t require special talents.  It requires getting out there and doing it.


Most people don’t know that Dr. Abella was an active violinist in high school and college, and he looks forward to returning to music in the future. In the meantime, he indulges his inner science kid in the kitchen, through cooking and baking.

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