Thursday, September 18, 2008
Health care is a hot topic this election season By Anthony Policastro, M.D

The upcoming elections are now less than two months off. There are a lot of issues that the candidates will be discussing. Some of those involve health care. It is important for every voter to listen carefully to the campaign promises. It is important for every voter to see how realistic those promises are. One of the hot topics is health care insurance for everyone. That is being discussed at the State level. It is being discussed at the Federal level. A second topic has to do with candidates promising that they can fulfill all their campaign pledges with no increase in taxes. Unfortunately, the two promises are not compatible. You cannot provide universal health insurance coverage and not increase taxes. The US has the most expensive medical care system in the world. There are many reasons for this. One is related to the fact that drug costs are very high. A second is that we want to have the latest drugs, which are the more expensive ones. We want to take drugs for everything, which increases the number of expensive drugs that we use. The result is that we use a lot of expensive drugs for our health care. Physicians drive some of that. Patients drive some of that. A second reason for costs being so high has to do with expensive tests. Many patients want to have every test done that is possible. Many physicians order extra tests because of fears of being sued if they miss something. The result is that we do a lot more tests than we need to. A third reason has to do with medical procedures. Many of the things that drive too many tests also drive too many procedures. Some procedures like colonoscopy and mammography are important and should be done. Other procedures have varying rates depending upon where in the country you live. Some communities will do a lot of a certain procedure. Others will do fewer. It is related to the medical care system in that community and not to the procedure itself. Many people make money off the medical system and that adds cost to the entire system. The profits of manage care companies is one example. The fees paid to malpractice attorneys is another example. The revenue paid to TV advertising of drugs is a third example. There are multiple other reasons that the care is so expensive. I cannot go into them all here. The bottom line is that providing health insurance for every American or for any individual in a particular State will be expensive. It will either require a significant increase in taxes or the money will have to come from other programs that the government now funds. Two years ago, I wrote an article about how Massachusetts was going to be the first state to provide health insurance to every citizen in the state. They were treating it like care insurance in that everybody had to have it to live in the state. They have found it to be much more expensive than they ever thought. This is a scenario that is not confined to Massachusetts. When the candidates start talking about health insurance for everyone in the state or in the country, ask how they will pay for it. If one of their other pledges is to reduce taxes, then they cannot carry out both promises. They may not know that. However, as an informed voter, you should.

Nanticoke welcomes new CFO Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Darr Hall as chief financial officer. Hall comes to Nanticoke from FTI Cambio Health Solutions and has been interim CFO at Nanticoke for the past year. As chief financial officer, Hall is responsible for financial operations management. Hall has more than 30 years of experience in health systems. He also has financial leadership and experience in acute care hospitals of various sizes. He has worked in all aspects of hospital financial operations and diversified health care environments. Hall is a certified public accountant and has a B.A. in business administration from the University of Tennessee.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Esaka Dr. Emmanuel Esaka, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, has joined Nanticoke Women's Health Center, located at 1309 Bridgeville Highway, Seaford. He is accepting new patients. Esaka has been practicing at Allegheny General Hospital in Pennsylvania and is experienced in the latest minimally invasive gynecologic surgical procures. He studied in Europe and has his PhD in Clinical Pharmacology & Statistics. Dr. Esaka has special interests in prenatal diagnosis, fetal behavior, obstetrics emergencies and maternal complications in pregnancy. He is fluent in five languages - English, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. To reach Nanticoke Women's Health Center, call 302-629-3923.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Janjua Dr. Imran F. Janjua has joined Nanticoke Health Services as a specialist in inpatient hospital care. Dr. Janjua completed his residency in family practice at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington and graduated from Nishtar Medical College in Multan, Pakistan. He is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi.

State plans suicide conference0 The Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition will host Delaware's Third Suicide Prevention Conference on Thursday, Sept. 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall in Newark. The theme is "The Golden Link: From Research to Action" featuring keynote speaker, Dr. Jane Pearson who chairs the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) Suicide Research Consortium. There will also be family and community forums and workshops during the evening portion of the conference from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Workshop topics include youth, adult and elderly suicide; veterans and suicide prevention; access to mental health care; suicide lethality assessment; faith-based suicide prevention; suicide; guns and public health; and other suicide prevention topics. The free conference is open to professionals and the general public interested in learning about the most recent updates in the area of suicide prevention. The day will also feature the inaugural presentation of Delaware's Suicide Prevention Plan. To attend, register online at or call 800-287-6423.

Nanticoke welcomes pastor The Rev. Dr. Thomas Connar began duties on Aug. 1 at Nanticoke Hospital as the manager of pastoral care. Dr. Connar coordinates a volunteer pastoral care team composed of community clergy. They are committed to providing twenty-four hour on call availability for patients and staff. Pastoral care team clergypersons visit patients during their inpatient stay. Dr. Connar retired after serving 35 years as a local church pastor in the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, 15 of those years as a senior minister. Dr. Connar holds a master of divinity degree and a doctor of ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He has also had several units of clinical pastoral training. Dr. Connar will coordinate administrative matters of the Pastoral Care Department at Nanticoke Memorial, help implement pastoral care programs as requested, recruit new chaplains, as well as participate in patient visitation and care.

Depression support The Mental Health Association in Delaware is sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations. Locations are provided with registration.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as 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. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For details call 629-6611, ext. 5121.