Thursday, February 15, 2018
Doctors Perspective
Many old proverbs still hold true

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Many old proverbs still hold true. Some can be viewed in medical terms. One involves the days when battles were fought on horseback. It goes like this: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. The gist is that little events can have significant consequences in the long run. This was a frequent issue when I was a hospital commanding officer in the military. We used to have duties known as details. A detail is something that involved individuals being pulled out of their primary job. They would then have to do another job that had nothing to do with their primary job. For example, hospital personnel might be called upon to have a base clean-up detail. They would spend the day picking up trash instead of being at their primary job. There might be a need for troops to stand in formation. This would happen during a variety of ceremonies. For example, there might be a change of commanding officer. The ceremony would require a squadron of personnel to be at attention at the ceremony. This would require time away from duty for practice. It would require time away from duty for the ceremony. I was fortunate that I never had to provide a detail for a military parade. That was probably the worst thing that could happen. It would require a tremendous amount of time for practice and a tremendous number of people. The time lost from treating patients would be significant. It actually would be a foolish idea to deprive the troops of the time that they could use for real training. One of the details that I was not fond of was Distinguished Visitor (DV) greeter duty. This involved a senior officer going to the flight line to greet honored guests. It rotated among the senior officers in the flying wing. That meant I got to do it every six weeks or so for an entire week. It meant that I would go to the flight line to greet the aircraft of a DV when they arrived. Most weeks this was not too time consuming; however, that was not always the case. One time I had the detail during a wing commander conference at Tactical Air Command (TAC) headquarters. That meant that the 20 or so commanders from all the TAC bases came in on the same day. I had to be on the flight line to greet them. We had a cold, windy, sleety day. I was in and out of the sleet all day. I greeted the last commander at 1730 hours (5:30 p.m. for civilians). I went home and took my temperature. It was 94 degrees. What details all had in common was that they took people away from their primary job. Usually, that had no adverse results. At least that is what we thought. However, it left one to wonder how often the absence of someone from the hospital resulted in harm to a patient. Perhaps that individual was the horseshoe nail that could have kept bad things from happening. While this was the medical example, all areas of the base had people contributing to details. Perhaps one of them was responsible for a part that might keep a plane from crashing. Perhaps another missed out on training that might later prevent an accident. You never know when one individual might be the horseshoe nail in a process that could result in catastrophe later on. It is best to not take that chance in the first place.

Alzheimers programs offered The Caregiver Resource Center at the Modern Maturity Center located at 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover, is offering a series of educational programs presented by Jamie Magee, coordinator for the Alzheimers Association. The following free programs are being offered: Wednesday, March 7, 10-11:30 a.m. - Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimers The Basics. Register by March 2.

Wednesday, April 11, 10-11:30 a.m. - Effective Communication Strategies. Register by April 6. Wednesday, May 16, 10-11:30 a.m. - Understanding and Responding to Dementia Related Behaviors. Register by May 11. To register, call 800-272-3900 or email Sharon Jarnette at

Childbirth classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet for five weeks four weeks related to childbirth education and the fifth week will be a breastfeeding class. The following sessions will be held in 2018: Feb. 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22; March 29, April 5, 12, 19, 26; May 16, 24, 31, June 7, 14; July 5, 12, 19, 26, Aug. 2; Aug. 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1 *Nov. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 (*Tuesdays) The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support, and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticokes Mother & Baby Care Center. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The refresher class covers breathing techniques, signs, symptoms, and stages of labor, birthing options, and a tour of Nanticokes Mother & Baby Care Center. The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Pre-registration is required for either class. To register or for more information, contact Nanticokes Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator at 629-6611, ext. 2540. To learn more about womens health services provided by Nanticoke, visit

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Rehabilitation Services will host a stroke support group on Tuesday, Feb. 20 from 1:30 to 3 p.m., at the Seaford Library & Cultural Center. This support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families, friends, and caregivers. This free support group provides education, community resources, and emotional support to those who have been affected by this life-altering event. Meetings consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions for caregivers and stroke survivors to discuss concerns, providing support and networking. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call Nanticoke Rehabilitation Services at 629-6224. To learn more about Nanticokes stroke program, visit

Statewide Walk for Autism is April 14 Autism Delaware has announced that the statewide Walk for Autism starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. The Wilmington walk takes place April 21 in Fox Point State Park. The event coordinators hope to attract 3,000 walkers and to raise $250,000 for Autism Delawares programs and services. A celebration as well as a fundraiser, Autism Delawares Walk for Autism also runs a fun zone where children can enjoy hands-on crafts. And next door to the fun zone, the newest and latest in products and services are on display especially for individuals and families affected by autism. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase food from food trucks that will be open for business. For more information, to register, or to sponsor the Walk for Autism, visit To volunteer, call 302-224-6020, or send an email to