Thursday, December 15, 2005
Advanced directives on organ donations, and end-of-life care, should be discussed

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

There has been a lot of publicity about people having what are called advanced directives. These are the legal documents that provide health caregivers with information about what the patient would want in the way of end of life care. They talk about whether to go on a respirator. They talk about whether to do CPR. They talk about other life sustaining efforts. Before preparing any such document, individuals should have a conversation about their wishes with their family. That way the family will know exactly what they are thinking. It will help the family make decisions for them. While that conversation can be held at any time during an individual's life, it is usually held as people grow older. There is a similar necessary conversation that needs to be held by family members. It needs to be held much earlier in life. That conversation is the one about organ donation. There are thousands of people in this country who die every year while waiting for an organ transplant. They are on a transplant list. The list is long. They wind up dying before their turn comes up on the list. The only way to fix this is to increase the number of transplant donors. Delaware has recognized this need. They have included transplant donations as part of the driver's license process. There is a good reason for this. The most common cause of death in individuals under age 45 is a motor vehicle accident. In addition, the younger the victim, the more likely they are to have healthy organs. This combination makes it a logical approach to ask young drivers about being organ donors. Since we do not expect young people to die in auto accidents, the conversation about whether they want to be an organ donor does not usually occur with their family. If we wait until the time an accident occurs, then we are left asking a grieving family about a decision on organ donation. Someone receiving that kind of news is not prepared to deal with decisions like that. The only way to have them prepared is to have that discussion beforehand. For that reason, it means that if you have already had a discussion about being an organ donor with your family, then good for you. If you have not had that discussion, then now is the time to do so. No one ever wants to think about the fact that he/she might be an accident victim at a young age. However, it is not a hard thing to let your family members know that you would want to be an organ donor if the situation ever arose. In fact, it will make it much easier for them to cope with those questions if such an unfortunate event ever happened.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital welcomes Dr. Lynn Romano
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has added another physician to its active medical staff. Dr. Lynn Romano, internal medicine, has opened a practice, located at 701 Middleford Road, Seaford. She is currently accepting new patients. Dr. Romano spent most of her life in New York before relocating to Delaware a few years ago. She earned her bachelor's degree from Wagner College in Staten Island and her medical degree from New York Medical College and completed her residency and internship at Staten Island University Hospital where she worked for 20 years. Nanticoke Memorial now has more than 90 members on its active medical staff, representing 35 specialties. To find out more, call Nanticoke's physician referral services at 629-6611, ext. 2350.

Wellness Community-Delaware hosts 'Look Good... Feel Better'
"Look Good... Feel Better," a program designed to help women overcome the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, will hold its December session on Monday, Dec. 19, from 1-3 p.m., at The Wellness Community-Del., Sussex facility. Classes are taught by professional cosmetologists and are open to all women undergoing cancer treatment. "Look Good... Feel Better" is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society; the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation; and the National Cosmetology Association. Classes are free but you must register by calling The Wellness Community- Delaware at 227-1155. The Sussex facility, 19633 Blue Bird Lane, Suite 5, Rehoboth, is located directly behind The Crab Barn off Hwy. One.

Delaware Public Health receives 11,000 extra doses of flu vaccine
Delaware's first case of influenza this season is a baby girl. Delaware's Division of Public Health learned that a 10-month-old girl is Delaware's first case of influenza for the 2005-2006 season. The girl was not hospitalized and continues to recover at home. As a welcomed holiday gift, DPH received 11,000 doses of free flu vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 28. DPH has distributed a portion of the free doses to 32 medical practices and eight health care facilities statewide, whose orders were cancelled by manufacturers. Physicians must use these doses for high risk patients and can not charge for the dose itself. Residents are encouraged to contact their family health providers to receive this vaccine.