Thursday, February 18, 2010
Planning ahead can help keep you safe during emergencies

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

By now everyone has dug their way out of the snow. In the process, they have all learned some lessons that may be valuable the next time there is a weather emergency. The problem is that most people tend to forget lessons learned as soon as things are back to normal. The time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. When I was in the military we spent a lot of time creating emergency medical plans. We had hurricane plans. We had snow emergency plans. We had power failure plans. One of the things that we learned was that the best time to see how good the plans were was directly after the emergency. My current plan for emergencies includes having a generator that will power my well and septic system. It will also power my kitchen circuits for my refrigerator. The plan includes having a charcoal grill to use for cooking if the power goes out. It includes using a wood burning stove for heat if the heat fails. It includes having a battery powered radio to keep updated. It includes leaving my car at the end of my very long driveway. Some of these things are easier to put in place than others. However, since we each have different situations, we need to ask ourselves whatwould be best for us. For example, I do not have a four wheel drive vehicle. However, given my other precautions, one may not be necessary. If I did have a four wheel drive vehicle, some of my other precautions may not be necessary. The bottom line is to ask if we were prepared for what happened last week. If the answer is yes, we need to make sure that we continue to keep our plan updated. If the answer is no, we need to make changes to the plan. >From a health standpoint, there are several things to take into account.One of those is making sure that food does not go bad when we lose power. Our refrigerator may not stay cold enough. If the outside temperatures are cold enough, the outdoors can serve as a refrigerator. We should make sure that if food might have spoiled that we do not make things worse by eating it later. We should make sure that we have a stockpile of medications that we need handy. Everyone runs out to buy bread and milk before a snowstorm. They might not run out to get their medication. While there are some medications that can be missed for a few days, there are others that cannot. Some medications need to have a blood level maintained. For example, seizure medications require a certain blood level. A missed dose here or there may not affect that blood level. Several days might cause the levels to go low. The result will be someone who starts seizing. A third thing to remember is that some of us are physically fit. Others are not. Deciding to clear snow when you are not used to such activity is not a good idea. Every year, there are individuals who have a heart attack while trying to shovel snow. It is not healthy to get stuck in the snow. Therefore, if you do not have to drive, you should not do so. Being at home may not be desirable. However, being out in the cold is a lot less desirable. Many devices that we use to keep warm give off carbon monoxide. We need to be careful about using those devices. At the very least there needs to be a carbon monoxide detector in the house. If I were to use my charcoal grill, it would be after the snow has stopped. It would be outside the garage doors. Using it indoors could be a fatal mistake. There are other things like this that need to be addressed in any emergency plan. The time to update that plan is now. Then if a future disaster is forecast, you need to implement that plan.

'Books are Fun' Book Fair Shop for that bookworm in your life, or get a little something to read for yourself in the lobby at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19. The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is hosting a "Books Are Fun" fair featuring quality books and unique gifts at great savings. Join us for huge savings. Payroll deductions for purchases are available for eligible Nanticoke Health Services employees. All proceeds from The Look-In Glass Shoppe benefit Nanticoke Health Services.

Prescription drug discount program Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County has partnered with FreeForAll Incorporated to offer a discount prescription medication program to Goodwill customers, team members and their families. Anyone with or without prescription drug insurance coverage can obtain a discount card that will enable the participant to receive a discount on their medication ranging from 15 to 75 percent, depending upon the medication and the pharmacy. In addition, as part of the partnership arrangement, FreeForAll will provide a per transaction fee toward an educational endowment fund being created by Goodwill. Program information in English and Spanish and discount cards for the RxCut Prescription Savings Program can be found at all of Goodwill's 15 retail stores and at The Goodwill Center in Wilmington.

Information can also be found on Goodwill's website, The discount card is free, never expires and is accepted at more than 54,000 participating chain and independent pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, Kmart and Target. It can be used for all FDA approved prescription medications, and also offers a discount for lab and imaging services. No sensitive personal information is collected when the card is used, making the program completely anonymous.

NMH holds cholesterol screenings Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer cholesterol screenings on Feb. 19 & 20 from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Powerhouse Plaza, 628 W. Stein Hwy., Seaford.The Lipid Profile test requires a 12-hour fasting and reads the HDL, LDL and triglyceride blood levels. Cost for the Lipid Profile is $15. There is no need to pre-register. Results will be mailed within three weeks along with information to evaluate the results and follow-up if needed. In addition to cholesterol screenings, free blood pressure checks and free glucose screenings will be offered. There will also be health information and interactive displays. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 4536.

Cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a free general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators of these groups are trained mental health professionals. Call 645-9150 for information or to register.

Man to Man support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers a Man to Man support group meeting on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Man to Man helps men cope with prostate cancer by receiving information and peer support. Man to Man is a forum for men and their support network to learn about diagnosis and treatment options through presentations, written materials and videos. Specialists share information such as side effects and how to cope with prostate cancer and its treatment. News and information about nutrition, general health, research and treatment, as well as messages from men living with prostate cancer and other Man to Man activities, are offered to assist in the recovery process. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Larry Skala (337-3678) or Grafton Adams (628-8311).

Depression Support Group There is a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call 302-465-6612.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Together, they answer questions, help calm fears, and share information about resources that are available at Nanticoke, through DBCC, and other organizations within the local community. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Bereavement support group Compassionate Care Hospice, The Wellness Community-DE and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will collaborate to present a monthly bereavement group, The Next Step. The group focuses on issues of loss that continue beyond the early stages of grief. Mary Van House, bereavement coordinator, will facilitate the group at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, second floor conference room. To register, call Lisa at 629-6611, ext. 2378.