Thursday, April 18, 2013
The primary care doctor shortage

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
One of the plans for the future of medical care in this country is to increase the number of individuals with health insurance. The idea is a good one. The only problem is that once everyone has health insurance, they will want to see a physician. Right now people without health insurance will sometimes not go to a physician because they are concerned about how to pay for it. In 2006 Massachusetts passed a very progressive health insurance law. They recognized that everyone had to have auto insurance to drive in the state. Following this logic, Massachusetts said everyone had to have medical insurance to live in the state. The goal was to gain increased access to medical care for everyone in the state. The reasoning was that if they had insurance, they could get care. The next step was to make sure that there were enough physicians to provide that care. They needed to have primary care physicians to do so. They currently are second highest in the US in terms of the number of primary care physicians available to patients. Unfortunately, even that was not enough to provide access to care for all the people that needed it. Simply giving someone health insurance is only a step in the right direction. There must be physicians available to take care of the patients. That means there must be enough primary care physicians in the area. Unfortunately, our current medical system does not support that. Medical students develop a lot of debt paying for medical school. It is not unusual to have more than $150,000 to $200,000 in debt at graduation. The reality is that this debt must eventually be paid. Our current medical care system is procedure based. The physicians who do the most procedures make the most money. Those physicians tend to be specialists. They do surgical procedures. They do outpatient procedures. They read X-rays. Primary care physicians by comparison will see patients in the office. Reimbursement for that is much lower. Thus the medical student is faced with a question at graduation. Does he or she want to go into a specialty that will allow them to pay off their loans in a reasonable period of time? Or, does he/she want to do primary care and spend years paying back a very large loan? The answer for many is obvious. It is not to go into primary care. The result is that even if more people have insurance, there may not be enough physicians available to take care of them. It is not likely that the medical community can fix this issue long term. They are likely to need the assistance of the lawmakers. Since there are twice as many lawyers as there are doctors in this country, there should be plenty of them available to figure the solution out.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Workshop Lofland Park Center at Genesis in Seaford will host an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Workshop on Wednesday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The free workshop will include: "The Basics" presented by Dr. Lawrence Kemp, "Legal and Financial Issues" presented by Michele Procino-Wells, Esq., "Behaviors and Communication" presented by Ruth Pryor, geriatric social worker, and Hospice Information presented by Cindy Drew, nurse practitioner for Compassionate Care Hospice. Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required by May 16. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, Sussex County program coordinator, at 854-9788.

New SleepCare Center open house Bayhealth will host a ribbon cutting and open house for its newest SleepCare Center on Wednesday, April 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. Located at 611 N. Dupont Hwy., Milford, Bayhealth's SleepCare Center will offer state-of-the-art sleep disorder testing, including overnight sleep testing and daytime multiple sleep latency testing for adults and children suffering from sleep deprivation and illness resulting from sleep disorders. The open house will include tours of the new center, refreshments and a ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. In addition to the newest location in Milford, Bayhealth SleepCare Centers are also located in Wilmington, Bear, Newark, Dover, Middletown and Georgetown. For more information, visit

Secretary Landgraf to speak A keynote address by Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf highlights the annual Families in Crisis Conference (FICC), "It Takes a Village," on Friday, May 3, at the Ellendale Fire Hall. The sixth Ray Lloyd Memorial Award will also be awarded. To nominate someone, or for more information on the award, call Carol Hall at 670-1216. For more information about the conference including scholarships and registration, contact secretary/treasurer, Betty Metzler at 628-4896 or

Hypnosis seminar in Seaford Certified Hypnotist Marshal Manlove, in conjunction with the non-profit organization Health Awareness Clinics, will conduct a free hypnosis seminar for weight loss, smoking cessation and stress & tension relief at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 22, at the Seaford Library. Anyone 16 and over is welcome to attend. There is no pre-registration, just arrive 30 minutes early and sign in. A $5 donation is appreciated. Manlove, who has helped thousands of people lose weight, quit smoking and reduce stress in their lives states, "Aside from being completely safe, hypnosis is the easiest way to stop smoking and lose weight and it's all drug-free. And our program is the most cost-effective way that is available as a program to do so." For more information on hypnosis and hypnotherapy, visit

NHS celebrates Volunteer Week Nanticoke Health Services joins communities across the nation in celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 21-27. The highlight of Volunteer Week will be the Volunteer Appreciation and Recognition Banquet at 5 p.m. on April 25, at Heritage Shores Club in Bridgeville where many of Nanticoke's volunteers will be recognized for their dedication and commitment. The theme is "Hats Off To: Nanticoke Health Services Volunteers." Volunteers gave over 34,000 hours of service during 2012. To learn more about becoming a Nanticoke Health Services volunteer, call 629-6611, ext. 2475.

ALS Walk at Laurel Middle The Laurel Middle School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society is hosting its 5th Annual ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease Walk on Saturday, May 18. This is a one hour walk that can be done any time between 9 and 11 a.m. The walk will be held in front of Laurel Middle School. There is a $25 registration fee and walkers are encouraged to form teams. The goal is for each team to raise at least $50. The top three teams raising the most money will receive awards. Come walk in honor or memory of someone affected by ALS. All proceeds go to the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association. For more information and to register your team, contact Amy Handy or Kim Ralph at Laurel Middle School, 875-6110.

Bariatric information seminar Bayhealth invites you to its next bariatric information seminar, where a special guest will share how he has lost over 200 pounds since his gastric banding surgery in 2011. Join us on Wednesday, April 24 at Bayhealth Milford Memorial, Conference Rooms A & B from 6 to 7 p.m., to hear this amazing story and learn more about the Bayhealth Bariatric Program. Surgeons and staff will discuss the risks, benefits and outcomes of the various procedures including Gastric Banding, Laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass, and the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy.

There is no charge to attend. Register by calling the Bayhealth Bariatric Office at 302-430-5454, or visit

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center 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 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 $45. 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.

Professional conference for nurses Delaware Hospice will hold a complimentary professional conference for nurses, "Facilitating Positive End-of-Life Experiences," on Tuesday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Duncan Center, 500 West Loockerman St., Dover. Participants will receive 4.0 continuing education hours. Featured speakers Michelle Procino, Esq., and Amber Woodland, Esq., will present "Advance Care Planning and Preparing the Advance Healthcare Directive." Additional sessions will include: "An Overview of Hospice Services," "Goals of Care Discussion," and "Final Days and Final Hours." Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and breakfast will be provided, as well as opportunities for networking. Registration is required for this free Delaware Hospice event, as seating is limited. Register by Wednesday, May 1, or learn more by contacting Katie Berna, MHA, BSN, CHPN, associate director of education, at or 302-530-2388.

Journaling workshop Delaware Hospice invites anyone coping with a loss to a "Write Your Heart Out" journaling workshop from 5 to 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 9, at the Delaware Hospice Millsboro office, 315 Old Landing Rd., Millsboro. The workshop will focus on examining your grief journey through this safe, non-judgmental and therapeutic activity of journaling. There is no charge to attend but registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Midge DiNatale, bereavement counselor, by May 6, at or 302-416-0581.

Hospice offers grief workshop Delaware Hospice will offer a "Grief 101: Introduction to Grief" workshop for adults from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, at the Hospice Center in Milford. This workshop will provide up-to-date information about what to expect when grieving the loss of a loved one, why we grieve differently even though there are many similar experiences, common misunderstandings, and ways to support yourself and others who are grieving. The workshop is free and open to the public but registration is required as space is limited. To register or learn more, contact Chet Carbaugh, MDiv, at 302-353-8345 or

Asthma Awareness Day is May 11 The American Lung Association in Delaware, Bayhealth Medical Center, and Nemours Health and Prevention Services will host a carnival-themed asthma awareness day, "Asthma Under the Big Top," on Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Pavilions I & II at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Families, children and caregivers are encouraged to attend this free event. To register or for more information, contact Nicole Goldsboro at 302-737-6414, ext. 16 or

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

2013 Walk MS dates The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced the 2013 Walk MS dates and is inviting all Delawareans to join the movement. Each year thousands of loved ones, friends, and neighbors throughout Delaware – from Wilmington's Riverfront to Sussex County's Baywood Greens – lace up and step out in solidarity, with hopes of creating a world free of MS. Last year, over a quarter million dollars was raised to help out the 1,550 Delawareans living with multiple sclerosis. The Twilight at Heritage Shores walk in Bridgeville will be held on May 31 and the walk at Baywood Greens will be held on June 7. To register, visit or call 302-655-5610.

Seniors save on prescription drugs As the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced that people with Medicare in Delaware saved $24,622,533 on prescription drugs because of the health care law. The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) more affordable by gradually closing the gap in coverage where beneficiaries must pay the full cost of their prescriptions out of pocket. This gap is known as the donut hole. Nationally, since the law was enacted, more than 6.3 million people with Medicare saved over $6.1 billion on prescription drugs. People with Medicare in the donut hole now receive discounts when they purchase prescription drugs at a pharmacy or order them through the mail, until they reach the catastrophic coverage phase. The Affordable Care Act gave those who reached the donut hole in 2010 a one-time $250 check, then began phasing in discounts and coverage for brand-name and generic prescription drugs beginning in 2011. The law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020. In 2013, the health care law increases the discounts and savings to 52.5 percent of the cost of most brand name drugs and 21 percent of the cost of covered generic drugs. Also under the Affordable Care Act, those who choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage and Part D now have access to a wider range of high-quality plan choices, with more four- and five-star plans than were previously available. The Affordable Care Act continues to make Medicare more secure, with new tools and enhanced authority to crack down on criminals who cheat the program. For more information on how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole, visit: