Thursday, February 25, 2016
Doctor's Perspective
A dangerous slippery slope

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
We use many psychological defense mechanisms. Denial is the most common. The second most common is rationalization. These are rather obvious. Others are not so obvious. One example is in the Broadway play The Music Man. In the play a scam artist wants to sell band uniforms and instruments in the mid-western Iowa town of River City. In order to do that he needs to find an evil so bad that everyone will see the need for a boy's band. He decides to use the new pool table as an example of that evil. He does this through the show stopping song, "Trouble right here in River City." He tells the townspeople that the pool table is the first step "on the road to degradation." He goes on to talk about all the things that will become inevitable due to the presence of a pool table. This feeds into the psychological defense mechanism called the slippery slope fallacy. This means that once the first step on a road happens, the others will certainly follow. It assumes that the events will not involve any rational human beings anywhere along the way. That is highly unlikely if there are multiple steps to the process. This "sky is falling" argument is often used about small steps that are being considered. For years, gun advocates have argued that a ban on assault rifles will inevitably lead to a ban on all weapons. We now have a similar fallacy in logic related to the issue with Apple being asked to open a single cell phone of a known terrorist. The argument is that if they create the software to open one phone that everyone's phone will be compromised by the bad guys in a short period of time. The likelihood of that happening is low. Apple is stating that once they write the code to allow the phone to be opened, they are not smart enough to keep it out of the wrong hands. It will definitely get stolen and be used by someone evil. It will definitely this. It will definitely that. We certainly will have trouble here in River City. The only question is what is going to cause more trouble? Will it be the terrorists who are currently using encrypted phones to hide their activities? Or, will it be the bad guys who are bound to steal Apple's unlocking program? Or, will the sky fall first? People constantly build slippery slopes. In most cases they are not as slippery as they seem because most of us are rational human beings. We can take action to do what makes sense. Those of us who are not will deny that common sense will occur and rationalize why not. It is all part of how we build our psychological defense mechanisms to keep us from facing reality.

Steve Rose named to list of CEOs For the third year in a row, Becker's Hospital Review has named Steven Rose, RN, MN, president and CEO of Nanticoke Health Services, to its list of "50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know." Under Rose's leadership, the Nanticoke Physician Network has grown from seven to nearly 50 employed physicians and nurse practitioners since 2008. The network recently opened three immediate care (urgent care) centers and the network became accredited at the highest level by the National Council for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient Centered Medical Home. The Physician Network recently opened a new 35,000 square foot medical office building which houses 30 physicians and nurse practitioners along with their staff. "Under Steve's leadership, Nanticoke has experienced tremendous growth in the scope of service. He has elevated the quality of care and significantly increased employee engagement," said Lynda Messick, chair of the Nanticoke Health Services Board of Directors. "We are very proud of our organization and of all Steve has accomplished. He is a true leader for the hospital, the community, the state and healthcare policy on a national level."

Blood Bank ships special platelet Almost one year to the day that Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) signed an agreement with Cerus Corporation for their INTERCEPT Blood System for platelets and plasma, the first product from this system has been shipped and transfused. BBD was the first blood center in the United States to sign an agreement with Cerus for the INTERCEPT product. With the first shipment also comes another first as the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilmington becomes the first medical facility in Delaware to transfuse this product. The INTERCEPT Blood System reduces the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile Virus and malaria that could be present in donated blood. INTERCEPT blocks the replication of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, making them inactive. Dr. Julie A. Horst, director of the medical center's clinical laboratory said, "This is truly a remarkable step forward in the science of transfusion medicine which we are proud to be a part of. The INTERCEPT blood system greatly improves the safety of platelet and plasma transfusions we provide veterans."

Breastfeeding support group On Wednesday, March 2 at 10 a.m., Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold The Mom's Circle, a free breastfeeding support group, in the Nursing Conference Room. The Mom's Circle is a safe place for moms to come for support, advice and friendship from both experienced nursing moms and new moms. This group meets the first Wednesday of each month. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Jacalyn Bradley, Nanticoke's lactation consultant, at 629-6611, ext. 2234.

Delaware Hospice welcomes staff Delaware Hospice welcomes the following individuals to its staff: Therese Harkins Ganster, MSW, ACSW, of Selbyville as a palliative care social worker. Ganster received a master's in public management from Carnegie Mellon University and a master's of social work from West Virginia University. She has experience as a director of Social Services, Continuum of Care and Pastoral Care and Western Pennsylvania Hospital branch director. Whitney Layton, RN, BA, as case manager for Sussex County. Layton holds a bachelor's in business administration and associates degree in nursing. Consolata Opande, CNA, of Dover as a certified nursing assistant. Opande received her degree from Polytech Adult Education and holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Nairobi. She has six years of experience working as a caregiver. Famalta K. Sumowalkt, CAN, of Newark as a certified nursing assistant.

Free smoking cessation supplies The Division of Public Health (DPH) is helping the Delaware Quitline celebrate a major milestone this month. The Quitline has now been helping Delaware smokers break their addiction for the past 15 years. The Delaware Quitline is a toll-free tobacco cessation hotline (1-866-409-1858) that provides tobacco users (including e-cigarette users) the option of receiving counseling by phone or in person. Health care professionals trained in cessation counseling are available statewide for in-person counseling. All Quitline services are free to Delaware residents 18 years of age and older. For eligible smokers, the Quitline also provides Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription cessation aids and non-prescription nicotine-replacement therapy such as patches, gum, and lozenges. To celebrate the 15-year anniversary, while supplies last, cessation aids will be available, free, to all participants who enroll in one of the Quitline counseling programs. Since it began in February 2001, the Delaware Quitline has served more than 49,000 Delaware adults. For more information about the Delaware Quitline, visit

Free kidney screenings The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD) will hold a free KEY (Kidneys: Evaluate Yours) health screening at Beebe Healthcare's Health Fair on Saturday, Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehoboth Beach. No appointments are needed for the screening and any adult can participate. Lasting about 20 minutes, the screening includes blood pressure and weight checks, as well as counseling with a doctor and dietitian. Those needing to have their blood sugar and kidney function checked may have blood tests. For more information, visit or call 410-726-8732 to speak with Nicole Scharf, NKF-MD's director of field services for the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Southern Delaware.

Diabetes Education Program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on March 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 5-7 p.m. The cost of the program may be reimbursable by insurance. As a person with diabetes, Nanticoke Health Services can be part of your healthcare team to help teach you the self-care skills needed to keep you on track. The four-session diabetic program includes weekly education sessions in a group setting. One family member or significant other is also welcome to attend. Pre-registration is required prior to attending classes. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

DBCC seeks award nominations The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) seeks nominations for the 2016 Shining Light Awards. These awards recognize individuals, businesses and healthcare institutions who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the early detection and treatment of breast cancer in the Greater Delaware region and who have served to motivate and inspire others to be champions of the cause. Nomination forms are available online at and due by March 4. Award categories include: Spotlight on Philanthropy, Spotlight on Survivorship, Spotlight on Healthcare Delivery and Research, and Spotlight on Business or Organization. Winners will be selected by an independent selection committee this spring. More than one winner may be selected in each category. Recipients will be honored at an Annual Recognition reception. Proceeds from the Shining Light Awards will benefit DBCC's programs that increase breast cancer awareness, promote the importance of early detection, provide access to mammograms, and provide support and resources to men and women in the local community who are newly diagnosed or facing a recurrence of breast cancer. For more information about the Shining Light Awards nominations, upcoming reception, and sponsorship opportunities, call 302-778-1102.

Alzheimer's support groups The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter announces that new support groups for the caregivers and families of those suffering from Alzheimer's and related disorders will begin in Sussex County in March. All groups are free and open to the public. A group will begin meeting at Laurel Centenary Methodist Church, 200 W. Market St., Laurel, at 2:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. The first meeting is March 1. A group meeting is also held in Seaford at the Lofland Park Center, Genesis on the second Tuesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. The Delaware Valley Chapter ¶offers a 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900. For more information, contact Jamie Magee at 854-9788.

Walk for Autism is April 16 The 10th Anniversary celebration of the Walk for Autism will begin on Saturday, April 16, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. The Wilmington leg of the statewide event takes place Saturday, April 23 at Fox Point State Park. Walk for Autism organizers hope to attract 800 walkers in Lewes who will walk to the Cape Henlopen State Park parade field to form the world's largest human puzzle piece for entry into The Guinness Book of World Records. The puzzle piece serves as a symbol for autism. The funds raised at the Walk for Autism support Autism Delaware's statewide programs and services, which address the range of services that people on the spectrum need to live full lives as members of their communities. "The Lewes walk seeks to promote and highlight services in Kent and Sussex counties, such as family support, adult employment and community resources, advocacy at both the state and local levels, and awareness," said Autism Delaware executive director Teresa Avery. "To meet the growing need in southern Delaware and around the state, we need to continue to grow. The goal for our tenth anniversary is $220,000."