Thursday, January 17, 2008
Don't wait until it's too late, guide your children now

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

We all have great hopes for our children. We watch them grow and develop. We think about what they will be when they grow up. We want to encourage them to reach their full potential. However, that is not something that happens overnight. During an infant's first year of life, developing motor skills and speech are important goals. Most children attain these goals with no real problem. The next stage of expectations is the refinement of speech, eating table food and ultimately toilet training. These are also goals easily reached.After that children start to develop in a variety of other ways that make them all different. Our role as parents is to steer them in the right direction. We can best do this by looking at where they are and asking ourselves whether the direction is correct or not. If you look at the typical early school child, there are several things you would like to see. For example, listen to their speech. Do they speak like someone that you would want to be your doctor or your lawyer in 20 years? Or have they learned profanity and speak with lingo that you would only expect from a high school dropout. The time to address this is before the high school dropout stage. The next to ask is how good is their self-esteem. Are you proud of what they do in school? Do you let them know that? Do you reinforce the fact that school is the most important thing in their life at that point? If not, they are not liable to suddenly come to this conclusion several years later. You may want to look at how they dress. Are they content to put their dirty clothing on day after day? How would you react to an adult with dirty clothing? Do they refuse to wear anything but expensive designer clothes? This is a time to teach them about the fact that money for expensive clothing does not grow on trees. Simply buying such clothing for them without having them realize that you get a lot more non-designer clothing for the same amount of money avoids the important lesson of budgeting. When we look at our children in these formative years, we need to ask how we would react to the way they are if they would be that same way as adults. If we don't like the answer, we have time to help change things. Waiting for it to happen on its own will often result in a less than desirable adolescent period.

Screening identifies more than one hundred potential diabetics
During the last three months of 2007, 103 Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) donors got a little extra potentially lifesaving information after their donation: they had high blood sugar, defined as a glucose level of more than 200. BBD staff encourages donors with blood sugar levels higher than 200 to visit the doctor as they may be at risk for diabetes. Of the 103 people who had blood sugar levels in excess of 200, 24 had dangerously high sugar counts greater than 300, two people had levels greater than 400 and one donor had a level of 530. Screening debuts at 10th annual Ocean City Blood Drive The BBD's diabetes screening program is the first of its kind in the country and is in use at all BBD blood centers and on the organization's bloodmobiles. In addition, it will debut at the 10th Annual Ocean City Beach Blanket Blood Drive - a two day event held on Jan. 29 and 30. The "OCBD" brings more than 600 donors to the Ocean City Convention Center to help keep the blood supply stable through the later days of winter, when donations are down, often due to bad weather, colds and flu. How it works BBD blood donors are offered the opportunity to be screened for diabetes as part of the regular blood screening process. BBD currently conducts 11 tests as part of the regular testing protocol. This twelfth test - for high glucose - takes place at the same time and at no cost to the donor. About 75% of BBD's blood donors in the fourth quarter of 2007 (13,886 donors) opted to be screened, a process which is free to all blood donors. Each donor tested is given a password-protected online address through which to track their results. Those with blood sugar levels greater than 200 are notified online and urged to see their doctor for further testing. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 20.8 million children and adults in the United States (7% of the population) have diabetes and one third or 6.2 million people, are unaware that they have the disease. On Delmarva, about 8% of the population has diabetes, and about one-third do not know it. Even more staggering, on parts of the Shore the diabetes estimate is as high as 14-18%, possibly due to higher percentages of retirees and general traditional lifestyle habits such as high-fat, high-sugar diets. The national death rate for diabetes is on a dramatic rise, increasing 45% since 1987. It continues to go up while fatalities for other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and cancer decline. It is the fifth deadliest disease in the U.S. For more information about the Blood Bank or to schedule an appointment, visit or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8.

Data from schools will find kids eligible for CHIP
A bipartisan group of legislators and Insurance Commissioner Matt Denn has unveiled legislation to get data from schools on children who take part in free and reduced price lunch programs and use it to find kids who are eligible for health coverage from the state but not enrolled. The legislation, sponsored by state Sens. Patricia Blevins and Liane Sorenson and state Reps. Pam Maier and Teresa Schooley, would allow Delaware to take advantage of federal rules providing for transfer of information from school districts to the Department of Health and Social Services. Approximately 5,000 children in Delaware are enrolled in the state's version of the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides comprehensive health coverage for $25 or less a month to families often described as "working poor" - above the federal poverty line and not eligible for Medicaid but without enough income to purchase health coverage. However, another 8,000 kids in Delaware are estimated to be eligible for CHIP but are not enrolled. As a result, Delaware returns about $3 million of its annual federal allotment for the program. "This bill puts in place a process that will result in many Delaware families who might not otherwise know that they were eligible for CHIP finding out that they are eligible," said Commissioner Denn, who has been working on CHIP outreach strategies since last year. "The school districts will gather up the information from those parents willing to disclose it, forward it to DHSS and DHSS will reach out to the parents." "Currently, Delaware actually sends money back to the federal government that could be used on insuring our kids. Instead, we need to find those kids and put that money to good use," Sen. Blevins said. "The number of children without insurance has been increasing for the last four years. We need to reverse that trend by doing everything we can to find children who are eligible for the programs that we already have," Rep. Schooley said. In July 2007, Commissioner Denn announced that the Department of Insurance would assist in CHIP outreach activities, which are generally done by DHSS. That effort has included distributing CHIP information and applications to children in the summer feeding program, through Delaware Technical and Community College's financial aid offices, through the federal bankruptcy court, and through a variety of community social service organizations that have volunteered to help. Commissioner Denn also recently announced a plan to provide a cash incentive to schools whose nurses sign children up for the CHIP program, replicating a successful program from CHIP's early years. For each student enrolled in CHIP by the nurse, a school will receive $50 for school supplies, funded by the Department of Insurance. "We will continue to try to identify and enroll eligible families every way we can, with all the community partners we can," Commissioner Denn said.

Stroke support group
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Free radon test kits are available
Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans that January is National Radon Awareness Month. Radon, a radioactive gas, comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It can rise from the ground to the air above, and into your home through cracks and other openings in the foundation. Once inside the home, radon exposure can increase the occupant's lifetime lung cancer risk. "Radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer by the U.S. Surgeon General," said Kurt Olinger, director of DPH's radon program. "We recommend that people test their home every few years. It's easy and inexpensive to do." Free radon test kits are available to all Delawareans and can be requested by calling 302-744-4857. These test kits consist of a canister or envelope containing charcoal. To begin the test, the homeowner simply opens the canister, exposing the charcoal. The charcoal absorbs radon gases which exist in the home. In four to seven days, the container is sealed and mailed (postage is even pre-paid) to the laboratory for testing. Results will be sent to the homeowner in approximately one week. Permanent radon detectors can also be used, and can be purchased at your local hardware store. Remember, any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Be sure - call 302-744-4857 for your free test kit today.

Look-In Glass Shoppe holding sale
The Look-In Glass Shoppe, located in the main lobby at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will sponsor a sale of name brand quality bedding and linens on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 24 and 25 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The linen sale will feature quality bedding and linens from name brands at great prices. Comforter sets, sheets, quilts, blankets, curtains, bed in a bag, along with bath and kitchen accessories will be available. Proceeds will benefit Nanticoke Health Services. For more information, contact The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital 629-6611, ext. 2301/4955.