Thursday, December 18, 2008
Spend time with your family all year long
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

When I listen to Christmas music, there is a Bing Crosby song that I hear every year. It is called the Secret of Christmas. The key line in the song goes something like: "It is not the things you do at Christmas time. It's the Christmas things you do all year long". The sentiment of those lines is good. However, remembering to behave that way all year long is difficult. We can do certain things to move in that direction. The most important of those are related to how we spend time as a family. One thing I feel very strongly about is the sacredness of the dinner table. Family members should spend time at dinner every night. They need to have that time not be interrupted by things like television or hand held video games. Phone calls during dinner should only belong enough to ask the caller to call back later. Testing does not belong at the dinner table. We need to show our children and spouses that we care about them as individuals. Time is our most precious commodity. We need to share that commodity with our loved ones. Conversations at dinner are much less likely to be confrontational than they are at other times of day. For that reason, it is the best time to communicate. We need to plan the schedule to allow the family dinner to happen. That may mean scheduling after school activities at a time other than dinner. That may mean moving dinner to a different time to not conflict with after school activities. When I was in the military, I always had more than a full days' worth of work to do. I finished what had to be done in the office before dinner. I then had dinner with the family. I was able to help the children with their homework. Then when they went to bed, I was able to complete the work from the office. The ideal way to spend dinner together is to go out for dinner. There are less distractions. The time spent together is longer. While the current economic times make that less affordable, we need to ask if we can afford the loss of time with the family that comes with everyone going their separate way at home. Christmas means spending time with the family. Spending that time only at Christmas is insufficient. We need to spend that kind of time with the family on a much more frequent basis. It's that Christmas time that you spend all year long that makes for a strong family.

Road to Recovery Driver Training
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center will be hosting Road to Recovery driver training Jan. 9, 10 -11:30 a.m.; and Feb. 19, 4-5:30 p.m. The American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery driver program allows volunteers to help transport ambulatory cancer patients to and from their treatments. Volunteer drivers must have a vehicle, safe driving record, valid driver's license, and the state's minimum required liability insurance. To volunteer, or for further information on the Road to Recovery program, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or 1-800-937-9696.

Bereavement Support Group
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is offering an eight-week Bereavement Support Group Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 7, at Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center second-floor library. The time the group meets will be based on the need of those who call to pre-register. Representatives from Delaware Hospice will provide grief education and support to individuals and families as they cope with the emotional, social, and financial stresses associated with life-limiting illness and the loss of a loved one. To pre-register for this free program contact Ms. Terri Clifton at 629-6611, ext. 2577.

Cancer Networking Support Group
The Wellness Community of Delaware offers a "General Cancer Networking" support group the third Monday of each month from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center second-floor library, Seaford. The support group is a free program of hope, understanding, and caring for people with cancer and their loved ones. Professionally led cancer support programs offer hope, education, and emotional support for adults with cancer and their loved ones who want to fight for recovery and the quality of their lives. Learn how to feel less isolated and more in control. All programs offered through The Wellness Community of Delaware are free of charge to people affected by cancer. For further information, or to register, call 645-9150.

Nanticoke Prescription Fund
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Charity Endowment Prescription Fund is a fund that assists patients who cannot afford their medications when discharged from the hospital. In lieu of a gift to a colleague, business associate, family or friends, consider a donation to the Nanticoke Health Services Prescription Drug Fund in their name. Participants receive inserts for their holiday cards, which inform recipients that a donation has been made to the Prescription Drug Fund in their honor. Over 250 individuals from the community have already benefited from the fund, and Nanticoke Hospital wants to ensure many more will be able to benefit. Imagine a family member or friend, diagnosed with cancer, being told that it could possibly be three weeks before they receive prescription coverage for their pain and anti-nausea medications. With your donation to the Prescription Drug Fund, patients are able to receive immediate access to their medications. For further information and to participate in supporting Nanticoke's Prescription Drug Fund, contact Nanticoke's Corporate Development office at (302) 629-6611, ext. 2404. You may also contribute online at

New Program for Dietary Assistants
The Sussex Tech Adult Division is offering a new Dietary Assistants program to help prepare workers for the institutional food service profession. Specific emphasis will be on hospital and long-term care facilities. Classes in this certification program will start Jan. 5, and be offered two nights each week at the Georgetown campus. Students will learn about the medical profession, nutrition, food service and gain computer skills. The industry-recognized ServeSafe certification is included in the program. Students will learn the skills necessary to get a job in institutional food service (primarily health care) to help dietary staff provide healthy, safe, and nutritious food. Duties of a Dietary Assistant usually include interacting with clients and/or patients and performing various food production and service tasks. The demand for dietary assistants is increasing. Individuals currently working in a related field may choose to schedule the 60-hour portion of the class to earn ServeSafe certification. To register for the program, contact the Sussex Tech Adult Division at 302-856-9035, or visit the website at

Ready to be "The Biggest Loser?"
Healthy U of Delmarva at Salisbury University, the Wicomico County Health Department and the YMCA Activate America sponsor this 12-week guided exercise and nutrition program starting January 9. Individuals or teams of 4-6 may participate. The program features seminars, classes and events about nutrition, body image, stress eating, nutritional labels, recipe tips and fun physical activities. It is designed to promote positive lifestyle changes and improved habits. Participants will receive Biggest Loser T-shirts, prizes, nutrition and fitness tips, YMCA or University Fitness Club access, confidential monthly weigh-ins, body measurements, exclusive classes and a session with the Fitness by Design team. Registration is $35; $20 for members of Healthy U or the mid-shore Family YMCA, and SU students or staff. Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 8. For more information contact Deanna Harrell, YMCA community projects director at 410-749-0101 x16 or, or visit the and click the Activate Delmarva link.