Thursday, December 25, 2008
Holiday traditions have a lot of influence
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

There is an old story that goes as follows. Mother was cooking Christmas dinner for the family. She took the roast out and cut four inches off the end. Then she proceeded to cook the roast. Her daughter asked why she cut four inches off the end. Mother responded that it was how she was taught to do it by her mother. They went to ask grandmother why she did it that way. She responded that was the way her mother had taught her. Great grandmother was there for dinner. They asked her why she did that. Her response was that the pan she had was too small to fit the whole roast. So she had to cut off four inches. The story is about family traditions. We each have some things that are family traditions. This is especially true during the holidays. For example, my mother always cooked spaghetti with olive oil on Christmas Eve. When we have something different than that for Christmas Eve dinner, I feel that something is missing. Christmas is a time for following family traditions. You set the example for your children. That is true whether the examples are good ones or bad ones. If you provide canned food for those less fortunate, your children will likely do the same when they grow up. If you decide not to do that because you feel that those individuals should get their own food, your children will likely have that same Scrooge-like mentality when they grow up. If you attend church to celebrate Christmas, your children will likely do the same as grown-ups. The same kind of thing is true with sending Christmas cards. It is true about Christmas decorations. Children tend to do what they see their parents do. Some families have a traditional day to put up the Christmas tree. Some have a specific time to open Christmas presents. There are certain meals that are traditional in some families. As we plan our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we need to ask ourselves what kind of example we are setting for our children. If there is a tradition that is peculiar to our family, we should point it out. After all, think how good it would make you feel as a great grandparent to see your granddaughter cutting off 4 inches of that roast.

Nanticoke offers diabetes education Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-week diabetes educational program beginning Jan. 7, 2009 and continuing on Jan. 14, 21 and 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the hospital. Registration is required. Insurance may reimburse the cost of the program. This four-week program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 302-629-6611, ext. 2446.

New MS fund fulfills dreams The Arthur Stapler Memorial Adventure Fund was created to help the more than 1,500 Delawareans with MS fulfill their dreams. As the brainchild of artist and retired textile executive Michael Stapler, the fund is named in honor of Stapler's son, Arthur, who enjoyed skydiving long after his MS diagnosis and until his death in 2006. Each of the fund's grants supports an individual in doing what may otherwise be impossible. Things such as a series of golf lessons with assistive equipment, art lessons, a weekend getaway, a family reunion, or an adventure like skydiving, scuba diving, or horseback riding can become a reality with the support of the Arthur Stapler Memorial Adventure Fund. Katrina Holloway, director of programs and services at the Delaware Chapter, is responsible for oversight of the fund. For more information and a copy of the grant application, call the Delaware Chapter of the National MS Society at 302-655-5610, or visit

O'Brien named technology director Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Mr. Chuck O'Brien to the position of Information Technology director. O'Brien will oversee the planning and execution of the Information Technology Department's vision, goals, and initiatives that support the long-term objectives, mission, and vision of Nanticoke Health Services. O'Brien, who has resided in Seaford for 31 years, brings with him extensive experience in a variety of industries including information systems, finance, manufacturing, transportation and education. He is a certified web master and has advanced degrees in data processing, management information systems and business.

Alzheimer's names new director Former Training Outreach Specialist Katie Macklin has stepped into her new role as Delaware executive director at the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter. Macklin, a specialist in healthcare policy, joined the Chapter in 2007 as Chester County branch office coordinator. Macklin was then promoted to training outreach specialist for the Julie H.C. Bailey Training Center in Smyrna. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Delaware, and a bachelor's degree in biology from Ursinus College. In her new position, Macklin will be a strong force in leading the growing Delaware advocacy initiative, while focusing on coordinating awareness and outreach efforts in Delaware. Her position will be based in Newport. For more information on Delaware advocacy efforts, contact Katie Macklin at For assistance with services in your area, visit or call 800-272-3900.

Marsden promoted to director Nanticoke Health Services has promoted Ms. Linda Marsden to Human Resources director. Marsden will oversee recruitment and staffing, in addition to compensation and benefits administration. Marsden began working at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in August as compensation and benefits manager. Her background includes over 14 years of Human Resources administration in a health care setting. She spent 13 years as director of Human Resources for Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore, Md. Marsden has a master's degree in applied behavioral science from Johns Hopkins University and is certified as a Professional in Human Resources by the Human Resources Certification Institute.

Flu shots still available It's not too late to get a flu shot. Influenza is a serious disease that affects many people, including the elderly and those with serious, long-term health problems. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Occupational Health will be offering flu shots to the public at Nanticoke Mears Health Campus (across from Seaford Post Office) through March 2009. The cost is $20. Medicare billing is available with proof of Medicare insurance. Pre-registration is required. Large outbreaks of influenza usually do not occur before December in the USA and reach a peak between late December and early March, and many continue into the spring. The duration of protection conferred by the influenza vaccine generally begins one to two weeks after injection and may last six months or longer. Pre-registration is required. Call Nanticoke Occupational Health at 629-6875 to schedule an appointment.

LDAF Autism Ball planned The Lower Delaware Autism Foundation's Autism Ball and Auction for Hope is Saturday, March 7, 2009 at the Bay Center in Dewey Beach. The theme encourages guests to help make dreams come true for individuals with autism. The event begins with a silent auction from 6 to 8 p.m. and is followed by dinner, a live auction and dancing from 8 p.m. to midnight. There will be an open bar during the silent auction from 6 to 8 p.m. followed by a cash bar from 8 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $125 and dress is cocktail attire. Table sponsorships are available for $2,500 and include a table for 12 guests, full page event program ad and more. Other sponsorship opportunities are also available. Entertainment will be provided by the Big City Band. Autism affects one in every 150 children born in the U.S. each year. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. Autism costs the nation over $90 billion annually, a figure that is expected to double in the next decade. For more information about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call Mary Landon Green, program and event coordinator, at 302-644-3410 or visit

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.