Thursday, October 26, 2006
Be prepared, because accidents do happen
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Life is unpredictable. Accidents are things we do not think about. That is especially true for young individuals. However, from age 1 through age 35 accidents are the leading cause of death. Sometimes both parents are struck down in an accident. Young parents tend to not think about this. For that reason, they are not always prepared when tragedy strikes. They often have more tragedy while trying to sort out things during the period after an accident. There are a number of documents that are important for young parents to think about. The most important of these is a will. Many people think of wills as something you do to leave money to heirs. However, there is an equally important role. That is related to guardianship for children. Perhaps one set of grandparents would make good guardians. Perhaps that would be an aunt or uncle. Perhaps it might be an older sibling. However, if there is no will, several things could happen. One is that there might be conflict about who will care for the children. Another is that someone other than who the parents would have wanted might care for the children. This is a good reason to have a will. Another document is what is known as a medical power of attorney. This gives someone the right to make medical care decisions for an individual who is incapacitated. In most situations spouses do this for each other. However, that might not be the case for a single parent. That might not be the case if both parents become incapacitated in an accident. It is important to make it clear as to who should make these decisions. A medical power of attorney applies if someone is incapacitated. It does not apply to individuals who have a terminal illness. In those cases there are two kinds of decisions to be made. Some of those are medical. Others are related to life sustaining treatment. The relevant document in this situation is what is called an advanced directive. It applies in end-of-life situations when the patient is incapacitated. It is a little different than the medical power of attorney for that reason. There are also financial powers of attorney. These allow someone to manage money for the person who writes that power of attorney. Sometimes individuals want one person to make medical decisions and another to make financial decisions if they become incapacitated. Therefore, the two documents are different. One thing that I frequently see is someone who has a financial power of attorney but not a medical power of attorney. They come into the hospital, but no medical decisions can be made based upon the financial power of attorney. Both areas must be addressed clearly. The one additional document to think about is the desire to be an organ donor. This can be addressed on your driver's license. This can be addressed in other formal documents. The organs in a young person who dies in an accident are ones that are healthy for transplantation. We need to make our wishes in this area formally known ahead of time. We often do not like to think about bad things that might happen. In so doing we neglect to think about the further bad things that could happen if we haven't prepared correctly in the first place.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Nanticoke offering flu shots
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be offering flu shots to the public on Thursday, Oct. 26 (3-7 p.m.) and Friday, Oct. 27 (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) located at the Nanticoke Mears Health Campus (across from Seaford Post Office). The cost of the vaccination will be $10. The vaccine is not recommended for anyone under 18. The influenza vaccine is recommended for elderly and high-risk individuals. Healthy working adults may also benefit from the influenza vaccine. Large outbreaks of influenza usually do not occur before December in the U.S.A. and reach a peak between late December and early March and many continue into the spring. For additional information contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2505. No appointment or pre-registration is required.

Public Health influenza vaccination
Delaware's Division of Public Health announces its influenza vaccination schedule for Delawareans without a healthcare provider or whose insurance does not cover flu shots. While many DPH adult clinics accept walk in clients, DPH will vaccinate children by appointment only on scheduled days. Medicare Part B and donations are accepted. Sussex County adult clinics
Oct. 26, Thursday, Greenwood Fire Hall, 13 Governors Ave., Greenwood, 4 - 7 p.m. Walk In
Nov. 14, Tuesday, Laurel Fire Hall, 205 West 10th St., Laurel, 4-7 p.m. Walk In
Nov. 16, Thursday, Laurel Fire Hall, 205 West 10th St., Laurel, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Walk In
Nov. 28, Tuesday Blades Fire Hall, 200 East 5th St., Blades, 4-7 p.m. Walk In
Dec. 7, Thursday, Blades Fire Hall, 200 East 5th St., Blades, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Walk In

Flu shots for children under 18
Children under the age of 18 will be seen by appointment only at the DPH Clinics and State Service Centers. Parents or guardians interested in making appointments for flu shots should call one of these DPH clinics. Sussex County, Georgetown State Service Center, 856-5213 Sussex County, Shipley State Service Center, 628-2006 For more about flu clinic locations and dates, go to