Thursday, June 05, 2014
Doctors Perspective

Many in the VA are doing the right thing

Last week I wrote about denial and rationalization to explain away scientific facts. Science is not the only place that those two things come into play. Recently CNBC had a report on the VA hospital system. Multiple issues were raised in the report. I decided to watch the 16-minute segment on You Tube. There certainly appeared to be a number of issues presented. As I listened to them, I heard echoes of the kinds of things that happen with a large medical system. Those things are true of any medical system. There are process problems in providing medical care. That is why someone has surgery on the wrong body part, receives a medication that they are allergic to or has a foreign body left inside during surgery. The good news is that these events are relatively rare. The bad news is that they happen at all. What we do know is that in most instances, there is a breakdown in the system. It is not related to bad people doing bad things. There are many people that work in VA Hospitals. They do many good things for their patients. We need to remember those people and the good that they do. Yes there are problems. The only way to fix a problem is to find it. Once it is found, then it can be fixed. However, not all of the news was about the medical care. There were issues with administrative procedures. In some instances waiting times for appointments were changed. They were incorrectly reported. The incorrect reporting was intentional. When I was the commanding officer in South Carolina, we had a requirement to fill prescriptions within 10 minutes. There was a time stamp at the pharmacy. We would stamp the prescriptions when they came in. We would stamp them when they went out. When I arrived, the waiting times at our base were the worst of the 17 hospitals in the Tactical Air Command (TAC). However, over the next few months we went from the worst in TAC to the best. I assumed that it was related to all the changes we made in the pharmacy. A few months later my pharmacy director came to me. He had discovered that the non-commissioned officer in charge of the pharmacy had rewritten the computer program. Any time a prescription took over 10 minutes to fill, the computer would read it as less than 10 minutes. Our numbers were all false. When I called the individual in, his defense was that he did it so that the people that worked for him would not be under such pressure. He thought he was doing a good thing. I relieved him of his duties anyway. In the process, I destroyed what was left of his career. When I see things like the waiting time issues at the VA, it takes me back to South Carolina. What would have happened if my pharmacist had not discovered the issue? The IG might have found it later and I would have been the one to blame. What if I agreed that the pharmacy people would be under less duress? I might have let it continue but integrity was more important to me. However, we never know how we are going to act until we are put into a situation. One only wonders what method of denial and rationalization was used to justify what sounded like a travesty to the average person. I suspect that the individuals thought their reasons were sound ones.

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

Report sick and dead wild birds

DNRECs Division of Fish and Wildlife Mosquito Control Section is asking for the publics help in monitoring West Nile virus in Delaware by reporting the discovery of sick or dead wild birds that may have contracted the virus. West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that rates of considerable concern to the health of humans and unvaccinated horses.   The Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick or dead birds of the following species only: crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, and hawks or owls, plus clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. Bird specimens should have been dead for less than 24 hours and not appear to have died or been killed by other obvious causes. From early July through mid- to late October, Mosquito Control also will operate its statewide network of 23 sentinel chicken stations, which keep watch for WNV and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), another mosquito-borne viral disease that affects horses and humans. Three human cases of WNV and no fatalities were reported in 2013, following a resurgence in Delaware as well as the rest of the country in 2012, when there were nine human cases and one fatality. WNV is transmitted to humans primarily by the common house mosquito, and possibly by Asian tiger mosquitoes.   Weather conditions could also impact this years West Nile numbers, whether found in wild birds, sentinel chickens or mosquitoes themselves, as epidemiologic evidence suggests that outbreaks might be more severe during abnormally hot years, with 2012 a good example. Within any given year, regardless of total numbers of cases, the gravest period of concern for disease transmission is in late summer and early fall. There is no cause for alarm that uncollected specimens might transmit WNV to humans, or to pets that come in contact with a sick or dead bird. Dead birds can be left to decompose in place, or they can be buried, or bagged and disposed of in the garbage. When disposing of any dead bird to avoid direct skin contact wear gloves and/or use a shovel. Sick or dead birds can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling Mosquito Controls field offices for Sussex County, at Mosquito Controls Milford office at 302-422-1512. For more information on Delawares Mosquito Control program, call the main office at 302-739-9917, or click Delaware Mosquito Control.

Nanticokes new nurse practitioner Nanticoke Health Services and the Nanticoke Physician Network welcome Jenna Bunting, FNP, who will be working as a nurse practitioner with Nanticoke Immediate Care. Bunting will most often be found working at the Nanticoke Immediate Care in Georgetown but will also provide coverage at the Seaford location. Bunting is a family nurse practitioner with over nine years of clinical nursing experience. She received her bachelor of science degree in nursing and master of science in nursing from Salisbury University. Most recently, Bunting worked as a solo practitioner in a retail, walk-in clinic setting at CVS Minute clinic and as a flex nurse in Intensive Care Units. She has also worked as a nurse on various units at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Jones Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Dr. Arthur Jones, DO to its active medical staff. Dr. Jones joins Nanticoke Health Services specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Jones completed medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania. He completed his residency within the St. Health System in Detroit, Mich. Dr. Jones is board certified in osteopathic obstetrics and gynecology. He is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetrics and Gynecology, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Osteopathic Association, Phi Sigma Gamma Osteopathic Medical Fraternity and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is accepting new patients at 8472 Herring Run Rd., Seaford. Appointments can be made by calling 629-8977.

Nanticoke partners with Cura Hospitality Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has partnered with Cura Hospitality, a dining services provider. In Latin, the word cura means care for the soul or to tend to the body with food. Nanticokes patients can expect to have increased interaction with food services staff for their selection of food preferences and meal presentation. Cura Hospitalitys healthy, prepared-from-scratch dining options are available to hospital employees, visitors and patient families in the Riverview Food Court located at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. As a part of the partnership, Tanyell Moore has been named as director of food services at Nanticoke. Moore brings over 17 years of experience in food services, 14 of which were served in a supervisor role. She has been with Cura Hospitality for over three years most recently as assistant director of food services at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. David Eanes has been named executive chef. Chef David brings over 10 years of experience in food services to the organization. He most recently worked as food production manager with Aramark Higher Education at Wesley College in Dover.

Compassionate Friends meeting How bereaved fathers as well as parents and grandparents deal with Fathers Day, a day of honoring dads, will be the topic at the Thursday, June 12 meeting of The Lighthouse Chapter of The Compassionate Friends. The support group meets at 7 p.m. in the Branford Lounge of Epworth United Methodist Church on Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach.  The TCF Lighthouse Chapter Memory Table will be setup and participants are encouraged to bring a childs photo to share and discuss. For information about The Compassionate Friends Lighthouse Chapter, call Marge LaFond at 302-259-0212 or visit

Outdoor experiences are beneficial According to a new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), More Than Smores (2014), girls benefit immensely from time spent outdoors. Girls who regularly spend time outdoors eclipse their peers who spend less time outdoors in environmental stewardship, more readily seek challenges, and are better problem solvers - all important traits in twenty-first century leadership. In this study, we expected to see that girls were having fun in the outdoors, says Dr. Kallen Tsikalas, lead researcher on the study. However, we were surprised by just how important it was for them how much they appreciated having opportunities to take on challenges and build skills in a socially supportive environment. Girls really want to feel like they are accomplishing something and growing as a person, and the outdoors is perfect place for them to do this. Girl Scout camp is a tradition central to Girl Scouts since 1912. Todays camps are highly evolved, matching the interests of twenty-first-century girls. Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay has four camps - Camp Country Center in Hockessin, Camp Grove Point in Earleville, Md., Camp Todd in Denton, Md. and Camp Sandy Pines in Fruitland, Md. To learn more about Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, visit or call 302-456-7150.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals next Stroke Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17, at the Seaford Library. The group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two 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.

Free Alzheimers presentation Are you concerned about memory loss? Join us at Brandywine Senior Living at Fenwick Island near Selbyville for Know the 10 Warning Signs  Early Detection Matters, a program presented by Jamie Magee, program coordinator for the Alzheimers Association Delaware Valley Chapter, at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25. This program is free and open to the public, so all interested parties are invited to attend. There will be an opportunity to ask questions. Contact Magee at 854-9788 for more information.

Free hospice workshop Delaware Hospice will a hold a free workshop, Remembering our Fathers and Grandfathers, at the Hospice Center in Milford from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 14. This workshop is especially for adults who have lost their fathers or grandfathers. Near the occasion of Fathers Day, this session will include activities to facilitate remembering and honoring your father as well as provide education in healthy coping skills  in a confidential, non-judgmental, casual environment with others who have experienced a similar loss. A continental breakfast will be offered. Bring a photo of your loved one for the Remembrance Table.  Registration is required by Thursday, June 12. Register by contacting Michelle August at 800-838-9800 or

Matter of Balance workshop Chances are you know someone who has fallen or who is afraid of falling. A Matter of Balance is a proven program designed to help people manage concerns about falls and increase physical activity. RSVP has partnered with Beebe Rehab in Georgetown to host free Matter of Balance workshops. Classes are held from 10 a.m. to noon once a week for eight weeks beginning Tuesday, June 10 and ending Tuesday, July 29, at Beebe Rehab Services, 21635 Biden Ave., Georgetown. To register, call 856-5815.

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun walk Join the fun with hundreds of runners and walkers as Delaware Hospice holds the 6th annual Delaware Hospice 5K on Wednesday, July 9, at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening. Individual entries are $20, and the team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50. Pre-registered participants receive a t-shirt. T-shirts will be available for same day registration while supplies last. Medals will be presented to category winners, and door prizes will be available for everyone. Register online at or contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at or 746-4666.

Community lymphedema talk The Cancer Support Community will present Understanding Lymphedema - Past and Present at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Camilla Carter, physical therapist and lymphedema specialist, will explore lymphedema management after cancer surgery. The Sussex facility is located in Suite 312, The Medical Arts Building at the Beebe Health Campus, 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Rehoboth. All programs at CSC are offered to people affected by cancer and their loved ones free of charge. Call 645-9150 to register.