Thursday, August 23, 2007
Summer heat deserves respect

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

A few years ago a player from the Minnesota Vikings died of heat stress during a summer practice. Summer heat deserves respect. With the football season approaching it is time to remind everyone of that. The heat index is often quoted by the news. However, all we tend to do is use it to discuss how hot it is. In actuality, the heat index tells us what we should do in the hot weather. For example, a heat index about 130 degrees makes heat stroke likely. Some one might think that is a very high number. It really is not. 130 degrees can be reached with an outside temperature of 92 degrees if the humidity is 90 percent. Even at lower humidity, there can be problems. For example, a heat index of 130 degrees can be reached with a temperature of 98 degrees and only 70 percent humidity. In these instances exercise should be avoided. A heat index between 105 and 129 suggests that prolonged exposure to it or outdoor physical activity should be done cautiously. At 90-105, heat stroke is less likely. That assumes that the outdoor activity is not prolonged and strenuous. It assumes that individuals are dressed appropriately. Football players exercising with full gear need to exercise caution in the 90-105 range. That is what did not happen in Minnesota. This range can easily be reached. It can occur with an outside temperature of 88 degrees with 50 percent humidity. It can occur with an outside temperature of 82 degrees and 80 percent humidity. Under those circumstances, practices in full gear are not recommended. The way to prevent heat stress is to drink fluids. There are no formal guidelines for child athletes. However, the expectation for adults exercising in the heat is 8 ounces every 20 minutes. When I was in the Air Force and we practiced in chemical gear, the goal was one quart per hour. When we trained, it was up to the commanding officer to take fluid breaks at least every hour for all the troops to drink a quart of water. It is up to the coaching staff of teams to build these same kind of mandatory drinking periods and mandatory amounts into practice. We have heat stress injuries and sometimes deaths every year. They are fully preventable. Every coach needs to know the heat index before practice. That will dictate the length of the practice. That will dictate the amount of equipment worn. That will dictate the amount of fluid consumed. If the coach does not take heat into account for practice, he/she needs more training.

Nanticoke plans golf tournament
The 21st annual Nanticoke Health Services Golf Tournament is Friday, Sept. 7 at the Seaford Golf and Country Club. The tournament, which is a scramble format, begins at noon with a shotgun start. The day consists of practice, lunch, 18-holes of golf, dinner and door prizes. With the help of individuals and corporate sponsors, the tournament's goal is to raise over $35,000 for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Proceeds will be used for the hospital's charity endowment prescription fund, a special indigent fund for patients in need of assistance with prescription costs.

CNA of the Year
To recognize the importance of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) as invaluable members of the health care team, nominations are being accepted at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, for the annual CNA of the Year award. The award will be presented at the 11th annual CNA Recognition Day held on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Owens Campus in Georgetown. The honoree will be chosen from nominations submitted by family members, friends, employers, and patients based on the CNA's dedication to providing care, comfort, and commitment to his/her patients. Nomination forms must be completed and returned to the college no later than Sept. 15. CNA Recognition Day is an annual event held at the Owens Campus and is co-sponsored by the college along with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. The event includes workshops, exhibits, door prizes, and networking opportunities as it brings together CNAs from Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For more information about the award, the event, or to receive a nomination form, call 302-856-5400, ext. 3190.

Easter Seals Open House
Easter Seals Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore is hosting an Open House for caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the new Easter Seals Center in Georgetown. Caregivers attending this event will have access to information and referral services, caregiver support group details, and an opportunity to speak with Edna Ellett, executive director of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Caregivers will also have an opportunity to observe program participants as they engage in crafts, games, exercise and music that will provide socialization and cognitive stimulation according to their individual needs. The respite program runs each Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. Professional staff conducting these activities and their supporting staff are trained and knowledgeable about dementia, communication, behavior management and group process. Also included in the weekly respite services are round-trip DART transportation and a nutritious dinner for program participants. To learn more about this and other Easter Seals program and services for people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, call Julie Donohue at 302-253-1116. For more information about Easter Seals, visit or call 1-800-677-3800.

Stroke and Osteoporosis Screening
Residents living in and around Seaford can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke. Life Line Screening will be at Woodland United Methodist Church on Aug. 30. The site is located at 5099 Woodland Church Road, Seaford. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. A stroke, also known as a "brain attack," is ranked as the third leading killer in the world, and the second among women. Screenings are fast, painless and low cost. They involve the use of ultrasound technology, and scan for potential health problems related to blocked arteries which can lead to a stroke, aortic aneurysms which can lead to a ruptured aorta, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which are a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. All four screenings take less than an hour to complete. The cost for a Wellness Package of all four screenings including free osteoporosis screening is $129. Life Line Screening was established in 1993, and has since become the nation's leading provider of preventive screenings. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-909-3106 or visit Pre-registration is required.