Thursday, June 09, 2011
Board keeps state's citizens safe

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Public Citizen is a national organization which serves as an advocate for the public. Each year, the organization ranks the disciplinary actions of the various State Medical Boards. For several years in a row, the Delaware Board of Medical Practice was ranked 50th out of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. That was true in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Recently, there have been some concerns about how the Board is doing its job. Those concerns are outdated. In 2006 the Delaware Board was ranked 44th; 2007, 27th; 2008, 24th; and in 2009, it ranked 35th. Public Citizen just published its annual rankings of State Medical Boards based upon the number of disciplinary actions per licensed physicians. This year the Delaware Board ranked 13th. As is usually the case, there are multiple reasons for this ranking. One of those is related to a change in the laws in Delaware. When I first got on the Board, the options were only two. One of those was that the Attorney General could prosecute a physician if they were incompetent or grossly negligent which had to be proven by the Attorney General at a hearing. If the Attorney General's office did not feel that there was enough evidence to prosecute the physician, then the second option was taken - nothing - which provided the Board with limited ability to take any kind of action. In 2006 the law changed which allowed the Board to take other actions. Thus the number of actions increased. Then in 2010, a physician in Lewes was arrested which brought a lot of attention to the actions of physicians in Delaware. The number of complaints for 2010 doubled from about 110 for the previous years to 220. The result was a further increase in actions based upon volume alone. There are other reasons why things like boards change over time. They include the board membership, the philosophy of board actions and a change in culture in the state. However, the one thing that does not change is the need to protect the public. The one thing that all board members are committed to is meeting that charge. The statistics suggest that they are doing that well.

Early Stage Alzheimer's seminar Julie Thomas, early stage and advocacy coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, will speak on the topic of Early Stage Alzheimer's at Frankford United Methodist Church in Frankford, on Tuesday, June 28, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thomas's presentation will include information on how the disease is diagnosed and best practices for people living with early stages of dementia.

Thomas will also introduce the early stage services offered by the Delaware Valley Chapter, which include community education, dual support groups, art & culture programming and volunteer opportunities in the Sussex County area. This program is open to both caregivers and individuals within the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory related disorders. For information on the Early Stage program or to inquire about other programs and education, call the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter at 800-272-3900.

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.

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.