Thursday, September 13, 2007
Arguments among families are most often trivial

By Anthony Policastro

M.DDelaware State Law has certain requirements for making end of life decisions. These decisions include things like putting the patient on a respirator. They include things like doing CPR on a patient. They include things like what medications should or should not be used. As I have indicated in the past, the easiest way to handle these situations is to have an advanced directive. This document will name someone to make those decisions when the patient is unable to make decisions for himself/herself. Unfortunately, many patients do not have such a document. Therefore, the state law will dictate who must make the decision. If there is no document, the spouse is the decision maker. That is usually not a problem. Most spouses are the ones that will make decisions anyway. However, sometimes patients are separated from their spouses. The law is clear. If there is a separation but no formal divorce, the spouse makes the decisions. That is true even if the husband and wife have not been in contact for years. If there is no spouse, the adult children make the decisions. Their decisions must be unanimous. Unfortunately, that is not always easy. There are times when brothers and sisters are not speaking to each other. There are times when the whereabouts of the siblings is unknown. There are times when the siblings will disagree about everything. The result is that decisions are delayed. Sometimes, no decision is made. Sometimes the wrong decision is made. What I find interesting about these situations is why the family does not get along. In the case of separated spouses, the things that have led to the separation are often minor issues. It may be an issue of arguing about money. It may be an issue about arguing over the raising of the children. It may be an issue about taking sides when the children are grown. It is not often an issue about the spouse being physically abused. It is not often an issue about the spouse being an alcoholic. It almost always is something that is relatively trivial. That is especially true when you think about the "better or worse" wedding vows these individuals have made. With siblings that do not get along, the reasons are most often even more trivial. They can relate to things like not going to a family reunion. They can relate to things like not getting a phone call on a birthday. They can relate to things like a disagreement about money. In many instances, we find that the individuals do not even remember why they are not talking to each other. There is an old saying that "blood is thicker than water". While that may be true, it is amazing at how many things it is not thicker than. We should all think about this. We should ask ourselves if there is a relative that we no longer talk to. We should ask ourselves the reason why. If the reason is trivial or if we don't even remember the reason, we should be the ones to take action. We should be the ones to mend those fences. It is better to do that when everyone is alive and healthy. It is not a good time to do that when a family member is on his/her deathbed. Even worse, it is not a good time to do that when the family member is gone.

Local businesses partner for Start! Heart Walk
Each year, more than 1 million Americans suffer a heart attack and 700,000 have a stroke. A leading risk factor for heart attack and embolic stroke is lack of physical activity. About 70 percent of Americans are not getting enough exercise, blaming lack of time and lack of motivation, ignoring fitness and health increases our chances for disease. Trinity Transport Inc. and Nemours Health & Prevention Services are proud to be partnering with the American Heart Association's Start! Campaign, a physical activity program to fight heart disease and stroke by getting people moving through workplace working programs. Participating in this program can significantly improve your health. We ask that you join us in the American Heart Association's Annual Sussex County Start! Heart Walk to show your commitment and support for this amazing cause. The 5K (3.1 miles) walk will raise money for research opportunities as well as education and awareness resources. The American Heart Association goal for this event is 1,000 walkers, so get a group together and register today. You can register online and find more information at or call 856-7386. Contact Nemours at 302-444-9173 with any questions and take charge of your health. The event will be Oct. 6, at Delaware Technical Community College, registration is at 9 a.m.

Prostate cancer test at NMH
Nanticoke Health Services will provide PSA screenings on Friday, September 21. The blood tests will be offered at the Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center, 1st Floor, adjacent to the Hospital from 8:00 a.m. till 5 p.m. The fee for the test will be $5. Results will be mailed approximately two weeks after the event. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital encourages men over the age of 50 to take advantage of this service. If you are 40 years old and at high risk of developing this cancer you are also encouraged to participate. African-American men are at high risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who have a family history of the disease. For additional information on the PSA screening contact the Cancer Care Center at 629-6611, extension 3765.

CNA of the Year
To recognize the importance of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) as invaluable members of the health care team, nominations are being accepted at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, for the annual CNA of the Year award. The award will be presented at the 11th annual CNA Recognition Day held on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Owens Campus in Georgetown. The honoree will be chosen from nominations submitted by family members, friends, employers, and patients based on the CNA's dedication to providing care, comfort, and commitment to his/her patients. Nomination forms must be completed and returned to the college no later than Sept. 15. CNA Recognition Day is an annual event held at the Owens Campus and is co-sponsored by the college along with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. The event includes workshops, exhibits, door prizes, and networking opportunities as it brings together CNAs from Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.For more information about the award, the event, or to receive a nomination form, call 302-856-5400, ext. 3190.

Geriatric Care course offered
Nurses can expand their knowledge of geriatric care with an upcoming continuing education course at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, Georgetown. This 24-hour program includes theory acquisition and clinical application via three-hour classes every other week for eight weeks. Classes may be taken individually or as a complete series. Content is based on the Nurses Improving Care to Health System Elders (NICHE) program, developed by New York University and funded by the John Hartford Foundation and the Christiana Care We Improve Senior Health (WISH) program. Successful completion of the course prepares the clinician to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification exam in gerontology. Classes begin on Tuesday, Sept. 4, and will run through early December. For more information, call 855-5988.

Basket Bingo
Nanticoke Health Services will hold a Longaberger Basket Bingo on Thursday, Sept. 27, starting at 7 p.m. at the Seaford Moose, located on Rt. 13A in Seaford. Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Heart Association Heart Walk 2007. The evening will consist of 20 games and will feature several baskets including the Horizon of Hope sets, Medium Market, American Craft Woodland basket and several regular line baskets as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Large Hamper and the 10" American Work basket, or one of the several door prizes. Nearly 30 chances to win. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information contact the EAC at 629-6611, ext. 2404, or

Committee for Aging and Adults
The Sussex County Advisory Committee for the Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities will meet at the Sussex County West Administrative Complex, North DuPont Highway, Georgetown, at 10 a.m. Agendas and minutes can be viewed on the county's website at All meetings are open to the public. For more information, call John Williams, chairman, at 302-856-3125.

Health-related courses/workshop
Health care professionals can enhance their skills through courses and workshops offered this fall at Delaware Technical & Community College in Georgetown. "Advanced Stethoscope Skills: Heart, Breath & Abdominal Sounds" is an intensive one-day workshop that provides participants with a review of pertinent anatomy and physiology. Participants will also use audio visual aids to identify normal and abnormal ausculatory findings and be provided with free periods for practice of skills. The workshop, planned for Sept. 21, develops confidence to do a thorough assessment of heart sounds, breath sounds, and abdominal sounds in the patient. "Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment" will link research to practice by providing clear applications of motivational approaches in clinical practice and treatment programs. These approaches may be particularly beneficial to populations who are often seen as having a low motivation for change. Classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 27, and will run in the evenings through Dec. 6. For more information on these offerings, call the Corporate and Community Programs division at 302-854-6966.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Darkwa
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital welcomes Dr. Nana Yaw Darkwa who specializes in family practice. Dr. Darkwa joins the Nanticoke Physician Network and has opened an office in the Network Health Building, 121 S. Front St., Seaford. He received his medical degree from the University of Ghana Medical School in Korle-Bu, Ghana and completed his family practice residency at Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington. Dr. Darkwa is accepting new patients, ages 10 to geriatrics. To reach the practice, call 628-8324.