Thursday, March 17, 2011
NFL discusses health care issues

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One of the items currently making sports news is the National Football League collective bargaining agreement. What a lot of people do not realize is that a significant part of that agreement relates to health care. Football is a dangerous sport. There are many high impact collisions in every game that cause acute or long-term injuries. While the players are in the league, they have health insurance coverage and a team of doctors working for their team. For that reason, the acute injuries are usually well covered. The more important issues are related to the long term medical conditions that can occur. These include problems such as joint replacement surgery, dementia from frequent low grade concussions and sleep apnea in oversized players. The list goes on and on. The first concern is related to the number of high impact collisions. One of the items being discussed at the collective bargaining talks is the number of games in a season. There are currently 16 games. There is a desire to increase the number to 18 which increases the number of high impact collisions by 12.5% every year the player is in the league. If the effects of these collisions accumulate over time, it could result in 12.5% more issues later on. The second related issue is health insurance. The current agreement allows players to be vested for health insurance after retirement once they have played for four years in the league. That is logical. The second part of the agreement has to do with the length of coverage after retirement. Currently, a vested player can get coverage from the league for five years after retirement. When you are talking about chronic health conditions, five years is not a very long time. Many conditions do not appear within five years. Those that do appear early will continue to worsen over time and they are not likely to be cured within five years. Some of the more serious conditions will take many years to develop. Dementia is one example. In addition to medical care, disability insurance also becomes an issue. If a player is too injured to work on his own, then he could not get a job to obtain health insurance. The problem with addressing this is that medical care costs a lot of money which has to come from somewhere. The pot of money is now shared by the players and owners. The question is who is going to give up their share of that pot to support medical care for the future. Right now there is no answer. So this becomes one of the issues that needs to be negotiated in the new contract.

Anti-viral resistant flu case Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is following up on an antiviral-resistant influenza case identified March 2,in a child from Kent County. The child was not hospitalized and has fully recovered. This is Delaware's first known case of influenza resistant to oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) treatment for the 2010-2011 flu season. The case under investigation tested positive for influenza A/H1N1 in mid-February. The specimen - part of a random sample submitted for routine anti-viral resistance testing - was reported as oseltamivir-resistant the first week of March. Oseltamivir is the preferred treatment for confirmed cases of influenza. Resistance to oseltamivir is very rare, occurring in just 0.5 percent of cases studied during the 2009-2010 flu season.There is no reason to change treatment approaches at this time. Stay informed about the latest developments on the flu by visiting

Cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The support group meets in the first floor resource library of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month. For the winter months the group will meet from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The next meeting is March 21 at 3:30 p.m. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support 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. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. For more information and to register, call 645-9150. All support groups offered at The Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford.

Background Check System To improve patient safety and combat abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities, Delaware has begun its work on creating a comprehensive background check system for job applicants. Funded by a $3-million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), agencies from across state government and outside agencies have come together to create the Delaware Dashboard - an electronic hub accessible to potential employers, designed to centralize access to all data streams that a prospective employer needs to check before making a hiring decision for jobs involving direct patient care.

The national background check for each prospective direct patient care employee must include a criminal history search of both state and federal abuse and neglect registries and databases, such as the Nurse Aide Registry or FBI files. Created by the Affordable Care Act, the new National Background Check Program will help identify "best practices" for long-term care providers to determine whether a job seeker has any kind of criminal history or other disqualifying information that could make him or her unsuitable to work directly with residents.The first round of states to participate in the program are Delaware, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri and Rhode Island.They each share a portion of $13.7 million. The new law set aside $160 million for the program, which is to run through September 2012, an amount sufficient to enable all states to participate. Delaware's comprehensive background check system should be in place by Sept. 30, 2012.

Nanticoke offers cholesterol class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next cholesterol class is Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The class will focus on foods and eating habits that may help to manage your cholesterol levels and will incorporate practical suggestions for overcoming the barriers to eating in a heart healthy way. Topics will include risk factors, saturated, unsaturated fats, trans fats, portion sizes and other American Heart Association guidelines. There is a class fee of $20, and pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, call 629-6611, ext. 2455.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to this schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rt. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro. "New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required.There is no fee except the cost of your lunch.
For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Nanticoke offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child or infant who is choking. This classroom-based, video and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $30. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations (if seating is available) will be an additional $5 fee. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

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. 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.