Thursday, January 12, 2012
Prevention is key to living a longer, healthier life

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I decided that I was going to be a pediatrician when I was in the second grade. I had paid a visit to my pediatrician and was impressed with him. I made the decision to be just like him and I never changed my mind after that. When I got to medical school, that continued to be the plan. There were some things that went on in medical school that also reinforced my plan. Within the last week, there were two occurrences that reminded me of those things. The first had to do with a chart review that I was doing for a new patient. As part of that review, I had to go back and review his birth record. That was 8 years ago. When I got to the record, I noticed that I was the pediatrician who attended his delivery. He was born at 24 weeks gestation. He weighed 1 lb., 5 oz. at birth and needed a tube to breathe when he was born. There was clearly an infection present and he needed antibiotics urgently. I gave those to him. He is now a healthy 8-year-old. As physicians, we do not often have life saving moments. When they involve premature infants, we often do not ever see the patient again. Therefore, it was a nice feeling to see a patient whose life I had been responsible for saving. He is now 8-years-old and has many more years ahead of him. I realized in medical school that life saving events can occur at any age. However, when they occur in a child, the outcome lasts for many years. When they occur in an older adult, there are two things that are different. The first is that whatever caused the life threatening event in the first place is likely to still be present. The second is that it may not be too many years before they have a second life threatening condition. The second occurrence had to do with someone that I was talking to. He explained that he recently had a heart attack. He went on to tell me that he had been given a number of medications to take. He indicated that he didn't like the way they made him feel. He could have told that to his physicians to see if they could change them. Instead he decided to stop the medications. He was proud of the fact that he had stopped the medication and now felt so much better. Young children rarely are responsible for causing their illnesses. Illnesses tend to be somewhat unpredictable and are usually caused by outside factors. They usually will take medication as given to them by their parents. The same is not true in adults. The cigarette smoker may develop lung cancer. He/she will then expect the doctors to cure it. The alcoholic may develop cirrhosis of the liver. He/she will then expect the doctors to cure it. I once had a relative who needed a heart transplant. He needed to get on a heart transplant list. The doctors told him they would put him on it as soon as he stopped smoking. He decided that he would rather keep smoking. He died from his heart disease. He actually lived long enough to have gotten the heart transplant. These were the kinds of things that I saw in medical school that taught me that my decision to be a pediatrician was the right one for me. The lesson here is for adults to realize that they have a better opportunity to prevent fatal diseases from occurring than their doctors do of saving them from one. You need to ask yourself what is the best way for you to do that.

Diabetes Support Group offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a free diabetes support group on Monday, Jan. 23 from 5 to 6 p.m., at the hospital. Are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would you just like to share with others coping with diabetes? Come join our free support group for individuals with diabetes. On Jan. 23, the group will feature Dr. Francisco Padilla, endocrinologist, speaking on the topic "How An Endocrinologist Can Help Someone With Diabetes." There will also be a question and answer period. Registration for this support group is required. To register for this free group and to obtain additional information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Alzheimer's Association program The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter will offer "Living with Alzheimer's for Caregivers - Understanding Middle Stage" an all-day program (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) which includes information on communicating with a person with dementia and dealing with challenging behaviors, as well as information on services that may be needed. This program will be presented on Friday, Jan. 20, at LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford. Kathy Hill, education coordinator, will present a medical overview scheduled at 9 a.m., and LifeCare will provide lunch. All are welcome. Pre-registration is required by calling 800-272-3900 or Jamie Magee at 854-9788 by Jan. 13.

Grant helps with HIV prevention U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Representative John Carney (all D-Del.) have announced a total of $704,118 for the Delaware Division of Public Health from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevent to implement comprehensive HIV prevention programs that focus on reducing new infections, increasing access to care, improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and promoting health equity. The grant will enhance the Delaware Division of Public Health's capacity to increase HIV testing, link HIV positive persons to medical care and other essential services, and increase program monitoring and accountability. "Education is the key to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in Delaware," Senator Coons said. "With more than 3,600 Delawareans currently living with HIV, this funding will provide the Delaware Division of Public Health with the resources they need to assist those who are infected and those who are at risk of contracting HIV." The grant, which was awarded at the end of December 2011, provides funding through December 2012. The grant project period runs to the end of December 2016.

Midlife Crisis workshop offered The Delaware Hospice Family Support Center will hold a workshop for the community and professionals, "Is the Midlife Crisis a Myth?" on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Dr. Angela D'Antonio, assistant professor of psychology, Wesley College, will lead this workshop. Topics to be discussed will include the history of development, evidence of midlife crisis, how to identify risk factors, strategies and coping skills, and managing life's transitions. There is no charge for this workshop which is open to the public as a community outreach of Delaware Hospice. However, registration is required as space is limited. Contact Vicki Costa, associate director of the Family Support Center, at 856-7717 or write to: by Jan. 12.

Test your home for radon January is National Radon Action Month which is a perfect time to test your home for radon. The Delaware's Division of Public encourages Delawareans to test their homes for radon. The test is generally the easiest and most effective in cooler weather months when houses tend to be closed up for warmth. Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless and radioactive gas that occurs naturally in rocks and soils throughout the world and seeps into homes through foundation cracks, and can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors. This gas may be found in older and newer homes and buildings. In fact, since newer homes are more airtight than older ones they often allow higher concentrations of radon to accumulate. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Nearly 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. In Delaware, nearly 12 percent of homes show elevated radon levels. Levels above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) are considered to be elevated. Homes with basements and those located in areas where the bedrock is close to the surface are more likely to have elevated radon. Therefore, elevated radon is more likely in the northern portion of the state and least likely in the southern coastal areas. However, any home can have elevated radon and testing is the only way to know for sure. Test kits are available at most hardware stores. To find out if you qualify for a free radon test kit, while supplies last, contact the DPH radon office at 302-744-4546 or call 1-800-464-HELP (4357). Information about radon is available at

Alzheimer's Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at LifeCare at Lofland Park's first floor Resident Lounge, 715 E. King St., Seaford. This group provides support and information about Alzheimer's and dementia to families, caregivers and anyone who is affected by this disease. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 628-3000, ext. 8302.

CPR classes offered 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 and use of the AED. 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 12-years-old 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 $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. 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.

Run to the Plunge 5k The Run to the Plunge 5K to benefit Special Olympics Delaware is Saturday, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m., at Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach. Entry is $20 ($25 day of). Amenities include long-sleeve t-shirts and refreshments. Awards to the top three overall male and female champions, top male and female masters, and top three in 5-year age classes. For more information, call 302-831-4653 or email Register online at

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 1:30 p.m., at the Seaford Library. The support group is for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. Modeled from the American Stroke Association, the hospital is engaging with speakers to provide education, community resources, and emotional support to those who have been affected by this life-altering event. The two-hour support group meetings consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors meet in groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

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. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Tobacco relapse support group Bayhealth Medical Center is pleased to offer a new support group for individuals who recently quit using tobacco products. The "Tobacco Relapse Prevention Support Group" will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m., on Jan. 25, March 20, May 22, July 24, Sept. 11 and Nov. 8, 2012. The group will meet in Bayhealth's BETT Conference Room at 208 W. Water St. in Dover. This support group is designed to help individuals focus on relapse prevention and provides networking opportunities for participants to share their unique experiences and success stories with others. There is no need to register in advance for this support group For more information, contact Bayhealth Educator Terry Towne, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, at 302-744-6724.

NAR-ANON support group "Take Heart, Be Strong" is a support group available to those family members and friends who are concerned about the drug/alcohol addiction of a loved one. We find people in NAR-ANON who understand what we are going through and are ready to share their experience, strength and hope to help us. This group meets at 7 p.m. every Thursday in the Youth Room at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd., Georgetown. If you are interested or know someone who might be, call Beth at 302-745-0466. This is an anonymous program and there are no obligations. Attendance is welcome with no prior arrangements. For more information and other meeting locations, visit

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgang's office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

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 throughout Sussex County. "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 Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

New depression support groups If you have been diagnosed with depression, are currently receiving treatment and need extra support, join the Mental Health Association in Delaware's newest depression support groups. The support groups provide a safe and comfortable environment for adults who may be struggling with depression to find others who may be going through similar experiences, learn coping skills and take back control of their life by being proactive. A support group meets in Seaford every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The location of the meeting is provided only to registered members. To register, contact the Mental Health Association in Delaware at 302-654-6833 or 800-287-6423. These new groups are made possible due to a grant received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware's BluePrints for the Community program.

Black & White Gala is Jan. 21 It will be an evening of elegance and entertainment to benefit the central and southern Delaware communities. The 2012 Black & White Gala will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Dover Downs Conference Center from 6 to 11 p.m. The Kent General Hospital Junior Board will donate its proceeds from this event towards the construction of new welcome areas at the Kent General Hospital Cancer Center, while the Milford Memorial Hospital Auxiliary will donate its proceeds towards the purchase of new ventilators in the Milford Memorial Hospital Respiratory Therapy Department. The gala will feature entertainment by the Funsters, hors d'oeuvres, cocktail hour, dinner and a cash bar. A live auction will include a 14 karat yellow gold Citrine quartz and diamond pendant donated by Sayers Jewelers and Gemologists in Smyrna. Cost is $100 per person. Sponsorships are also available. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 302-744-7015.