Thursday, July 17, 2014
Doctor's Perspective
In the summer, a car is like a greenhouse

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Over the last few weeks much has been written about a father who appears to have left his young son in a hot car intentionally. The child died and the father claimed it was an accident. Unfortunately, his lawyers will have statistics to back that up. Since 1998, 615 children have died of heatstroke after being left in hot cars. That amounts to about 40 per year. Those all tend to be accidental deaths. People do not have enough respect for heat. When I was stationed at South Carolina, the hospital took part in the war games on base. The hospital was in a canvas tent. Between attacks, the tent sides would be up and during an attack the tent sides would go down. We would all put on our heavy chemical gear and remain that way for 20 to 30 minutes until the all clear was sounded. We focused on staying hydrated when the weather outside was hot. Despite this, during one of our exercises, the hospital had the most heat casualties on the base. I suspected that it might have something to do with our canvas tent. Everyone else on base took cover in air conditioned buildings. During the next exercise I got a high reading thermometer. The outside temperature that day was 77 degrees. The tent sides were up as usual. On my signal we put the tent sides down. We measured the temperature inside the tent. The temperature went from 77 to 108 in the first five minutes. It reached 124 by the 20 minute point when an all clear would usually sound. The result is that we had headquarters send out a directive about not putting down tent sides in hot weather. Canvas does not concentrate the heat as well as car windows do. A car is like a greenhouse that can get very hot, very quickly. Even five minute errands are going to be associated with temperatures over 100 degrees. In today's world everyone is in a hurry. They might easily forget their child who is in a car seat. For that reason, here are some good habits to develop. 1. Get a big stuffed animal. The stuffed animal should be kept in the car seat when there is no child in it and it should be moved to the front passenger seat when the child is in the car seat. This will create a visible reminder for the parent. They can see the stuffed animal next to them before they exit the car. 2. Put things you need in the back seat with the child. Pocketbooks need to be kept next to the car seat. Things that you plan to take with you when you leave the car should be kept next to the car seat. 3. If you are bringing your child to day care, make sure you arrange to get a call from the day care provider if your child does not show up as scheduled. We all develop habits when leaving the car. We shut off the ignition. We open the door. We close the door. We hit the door lock switch. We need to add checking the car seat to that list before the door is locked. Absentmindedness is common in our busy world and there is no reason that our children should suffer for that. We need to be aware of this potential problem. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Diabetes support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a free diabetes support group from 5 to 6 p.m. on Monday, July 21, at the hospital. As a person with diabetes, are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would just like to share with others coping with diabetes? Come join our free support group for individuals with diabetes. A demonstration on "Seasonal Produce in Diabetic Cooking" will be presented by Nanticoke's Executive Chef, David Eanes. There will also be a question and answer period. Registration is required. To register and for more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Loneliness and the elderly Do you know an elder who is confined to the home and has very little interaction with the outside world? Do they have dementia? Are they safe? If you know someone affected by this condition, join the Sussex County Advisory Committee on Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities for its next meeting, at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 21, at the Sussex County Administrative Offices West Complex in Georgetown. Dr. Alexis McKenzie, eldercare consultant with House Calls, LLC, will provide a presentation, "Assisting the Elderly with Self-Isolation and Being Safe in Their Homes." For more information, visit the advisory committee's page at

Walk With Me Delmarva' kick-off Join Easter Seals at the Kick-Off event of the second annual "Walk With Me Delmarva 2014" on Thursday, July 24 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Easter Seals Tunnell Center, Georgetown. Enjoy Grotto pizza, desserts and giveaways. RSVP to Linda Forte at 302-253-1100, ext. 1121 or

Registration is open for the walk which will be held on Oct. 19, at Baywood Greens, Long Neck. Visit to register a team, register as an individual or donate to the event. To learn more about how Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit

Additional overdose deaths confirmed The Delaware Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed four additional overdose deaths related to fentanyl-laced heroin during April, May and June, bringing the total this year to 11 confirmed deaths in Delaware. Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, often is mixed with heroin to produce a stronger high. Because it is so powerful, users often have trouble breathing or can stop breathing as the drug sedates them. Fentanyl-laced heroin has been blamed for dozens of deaths across the United States this year. Because illicit fentanyl can come in white powder form like heroin, users don't know the fentanyl is mixed in. The deaths involved eight men and three women, ranging in age from 28 to 58. Seven of the deaths occurred in New Castle County; four in Sussex County.

Free to Breathe Run/Walk The Delmarva Free to Breathe Run/Walk featuring a 5K run/walk and 1-mile walk for all fitness levels, will be held on Sunday, Aug. 10 at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. All proceeds support Free to Breathe, a nonprofit lung cancer research and advocacy organization. To register and begin fundraising, visit

Watson receives promotion Nanticoke Health Services is proud to announce the promotion of Jim Watson to senior director of facilities management. In this position Watson will be responsible for maintenance services, plant operations, property management, construction service, environmental services, biomedical services and safety and security. Watson, who graduated from the United States Air Force biomedical engineering program, joined the Delaware Air National Guard Medical division where he was in charge of facility operations. He served as a biomed/facility equipment specialist at Malcolm Grove U.S. Air Force Medical Center during Operation Desert Storm. Watson was employed at Nanticoke Health Services from 1991-1995 as director/technical specialist and returned to Nanticoke in 2012 as director of facilities management.

Hospice Center golf outing The 4th Annual Eleanor Soltner Memorial Golf Outing to benefit the Delaware Hospice Center will be held Wednesday, Aug. 6, at The Rookery North in Milford. Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. followed by a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Contests include Team Putting, Longest Drive Ladies & Men and Closest to the Pin Ladies & Men, along with team prizes. Registration is $100 per person, which includes greens fees, cart, light breakfast, refreshment cart, range balls, and an awards reception with lunch. Silent auction items will be available. Participants may bring a guest to the awards reception for $25. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, call Bob Burd at 302-422-3501.

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture "You're Probably Too Busy to Attend this Workshop: Slowing Down in a Busy World," will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture at the hospice center in Milford from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, with Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist. With Americans working longer hours than workers in most industrialized nations, only 14% of us take two weeks or more vacation at one time. For work we sacrifice sleep, leisure, friends and family. Come learn how to manage your time more effectively and how to rebalance the demands in your life. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited and the cost of lunch is $5 per person. Register by Wednesday, July 30, by contacting Michele August at 856-7717 or 478-5707 or

Free Caregiver Education Series Christiana Care's Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and CARE Delaware have teamed together to present a free Caregiver Education Series. Topics include planning for care, accessing community and government resources, taking care of yourself as a caregiver, managing medications and dealing with common caregiver challenges such as bathing, assistance with walking and safety in the home. The series will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23 at CHEER Caregiver Resource Center, 20520 Sandhill Rd., Georgetown. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact Kathy Landis at 856-5187. For more information, email