Thursday, April 17, 2014
Fewer immunizations will increase the risks

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Last week, I mentioned that we have come a long way in our fight against disease since 1900. I mentioned that one of the areas that we have stepped backward is immunizations. Diseases like measles, whooping cough and meningitis have all decreased because of immunizations. However, within the last week there have been multiple news stories about measles making a comeback in recent months. New York City reported 25 cases in the first three months of the year. They usually only have about 60 for the entire year. While measles only kills about one out of every 1,000 children that it infects, even that one per thousand is too much in todays day and age. There are people who think that immunizations should be an individual decision. They do not feel that they should be forced to immunize their children. What that shows is their lack of medical knowledge. Immunizations work by creating what is called herd immunity. What that means is that if enough people have protection against an illness, it helps stop the illness. For example, suppose someone is infected with measles. That individual might come in contact with 50 people during the contagious incubation period. If all 50 of them are protected, then no one will become infected. The virus will have nowhere to go. If, however, some of them are not protected, then they will become infected. They in turn may later come in contact with 50 other people. Again, if all 50 are protected, then the virus has nowhere to go. As immunization rates go down, there are more unprotected individuals. That allows the virus to continue jumping from person to person. The bottom line is that individuals who cling to their right to not immunize their children affects everyone around them. It allows the virus to continue infecting people. Sooner or later children will die. It will be because of those individuals who did not immunize their children. We do not live in isolation. Our decisions affect many other people around us. We should do the right thing for everyone not just for our own personal beliefs and rationalized excuses. While measles is the disease with the current mini-epidemic, meningitis is much more deadly. Most current meningitis deaths are in children who are not immunized. There is much more than herd immunity at stake for this group of children. In 2008, seven children in the Philadelphia area developed meningitis. Six had received no immunization. The seventh only had the first shot. Three of the seven died. It is a shame to see us losing a battle that we should have won long ago just through the use of immunizations.

If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Delawareans enroll in coverage More than 14,700 Delawareans enrolled in health care coverage by March 31, the end of the six-month 2014 open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace. Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have health insurance or face a financial penalty, which will be assessed when they do their 2014 taxes next year. Marketplace Guides will remain available for those who need assistance in completing enrollments now or during a special enrollment period. To contact a guide and for updates on the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit

Hospice hosts special workshop Delaware Hospice presents, Remembering Mothers and Grandmothers, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 10, at the Delaware Hospice Family Support Center, Milford. Especially for adults who have lost a mother or grandmother, this workshop will include activities to facilitate remembering and honoring these individuals.  A continental breakfast will be offered. There is no fee to attend, however, registration is requested.  Register by Thursday, May 8, by contacting Michelle August at 800-838-9800 or

VanSant joins Nanticoke Health Nanticoke Health Services and the Nanticoke Physician Network are pleased to welcome Helen Sissy VanSant, MSN, CRNP. VanSant will be working as a nurse practitioner with Nanticoke Immediate Care. VanSant will most often be found working at the Nanticoke Immediate Care in Seaford but will also provide coverage at the Georgetown location. VanSant is an ANCC Board Certified Nurse Practitioner with over 13 years experience in family practice and 13 years experience in emergency nursing. She received her bachelor of science degree in business management from Towson State University, her nursing degree from MacQueen Gibbs Willis School of Nursing, and her master of science degree in Nursing from University of Maryland, School of Nursing, where she graduated with honors. VanSant most recently worked as a family nurse practitioner in Centreville, Md. She resides in Bethany Beach.

PHC achieves deficiency-free ratingPeninsula Home Care, a licensed and certified home health service provider headquartered on the Lower Eastern Shore, has announced its Salisbury and Ocean Pines branch offices have achieved deficiency-free ratings upon completion of a major State of Maryland performance survey. A deficiency-free rating is a stamp of approval from the state for Peninsula Home Care, said Nancy Bagwell, branch director, Peninsula Home Care.

 It means that throughout the entire inspection process, not a single inefficiency was identified, which from my understanding is very rare. State surveys are mandated every three years on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Agencies are evaluated on patient rights education, positive patient outcomes, medical error prevention, appropriate staff qualifications, emergency preparation and performance improvement data.  Peninsula Home Care ensures that all patients are involved in their plan of care and strives to give them every opportunity to maintain their independence in the home.  For more information, visit

Life Line Screening offered Residents living in and around the Laurel community can be screened by Life Line Screening to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. Centenary United Methodist Church in Laurel will host Life Line Screening on Monday, May 12. This event is sponsored by Bayhealth Medical Center. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions, abdominal aortic aneurysms and hardening of the arteries in the legs which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for men and women.Packages start at $149. All five screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

Heart & Sole 5K at Trinity The 4th annual Heart & Sole 5K will be held on Saturday, April 19, with all proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association and Nanticoke Health Services in Seaford. The event will take place at Trinity Logistics in Seaford, beginning with registration at 9 a.m. The course for the race, which starts at 10, will loop around the area surrounding the Trinity Logistics office. The 5K is hosted by the Trinity Foundation, a local nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Trinity Logistics. Participants can walk or run. The registration fee is $25. More information about the race can be found on Trinitys Facebook page, located at

Safe Sitter Class offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is offering a Safe Sitter class for girls and boys ages 11 to 13. A one-day course will be held on Wednesday, April 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday, April 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Safe Sitter program teaches youngsters how to handle emergencies when caring for younger children. The cost of the one-day program is $35. Participants are to bring a bagged lunch, dress appropriately with a jacket or sweater, may not use cell phones during the class, and must bring their manners. All medical information will be taught by a certified professional. During the course, students get hands-on practice in basic life-saving techniques so they are prepared to act in a crisis. Instructors also provide tips to make sitters more confident caregivers. They teach safety and security precautions, such as what to do if a stranger comes to the door and when and how to call for help. They suggest age-appropriate activities and teach business aspects of babysitting. To register or for more information, call Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Hannas Hope for a Cure The 1st Annual Hannas Hope for a Cure softball tournament to help FSMA (Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy) will be held at Crossroads Community Church in Georgetown on Saturday, May 10. Help us reach our fundraising goal of $20,000 by donating gift certificates, merchandise or funding. Hanna, daughter of Gary and Ashley Warfield of Georgetown, was diagnosed in February with SMA, a rare genetic disease that is often fatal, destroying the muscles controlling voluntary movement. For more information, contact Gary or Ashley at 858-6843 or 519-1699 or email Cash donations may be made online at

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings Residents living in and around the Laurel community can be screened on Monday, May 12, at Centenary United Methodist Church, Laurel, to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. This event is sponsored by Bayhealth Medical Center. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. Packages start at $149. All five screenings take 60-90 minutes to complete. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

Form a Relay for Life team This years Relay for Life will be held on May 30-31. As in recent past years, the event will be held at Seafords Soroptomist Park, with a rain location in the parking garage at the Nanticoke Cancer Center. The theme this year is The Many Colors of Cancer: Building a Rainbow of Hope. Team formation is in progress, so it is not too late to form a team and get involved. For more information about the Relay For Life, or if you are interested in getting involved, or purchasing a luminary, contact Shelley Lambden, this years event chairperson, at rflwestsussexde@gmail or by calling 841-3626.