Thursday, November 29, 2007
Experience has much to do with who we become

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

Much ado has been made about the process of cloning. The idea of cloning a human seems to scare people. However, we have had natural clones forever. We call them identical twins. One thing that is clear about twins is that they are very similar. Another is that they are also very different. There are many reasons for the differences. However, the main reason is that brain cells grow differently based upon the experiences that we have. Every infant's brain has many brain cells. Those that are stimulated continue to grow. Those that are not stimulated die off. By three years of age, what cells remain is pretty much determined. Thus it is important for parents to expose their children to many varied things prior to that age. That might include reading to them. That might include playing music for them. That might include making sure they are physically active. Everyone has certain skills when they are born. However, those skills need to be nurtured. For example, Olympic athletes represent the best in their particular event. What we often forget is that they are the best trained at that event. There may be thousands of individuals who have better skills than they do. However, those individuals may not take up that sport. They might not get the right training. Their family may not live where there is a good trainer. Therefore these Olympians do not necessarily represent the most talented individuals. They represent the best-trained individuals. Many years ago school was for the rich. It was for the rich male. There were probably many individuals who were geniuses that never had the opportunity to go to school. They might have been poor and worked at the same trade as their parents. They might have been slaves and never had any opportunity. We are all born with a certain genetic makeup. Those genes predict what we will be good at. However, they also must be stimulated in order to have the brain cells for those skills grow. The stimulation needs to start as early in life as possible. This creates one of the biggest challenges for parents. Finding out what your child is good at early in life is important. Stimulating that skill throughout life is important. Both of those things require a lot of effort on the part of parents. Different approaches to identical twins in their early life helps show that indeed there are factors other than genetics that make us different. A clone will always be different than the original because of the differences in experience that exist for all of us.

Sussex Child Health Coalition celebrates one year anniversary
Formed in 2006, the Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition works to address issues impacting the health of children in Sussex County. With the now popular "5-2-1-Almost None" campaign, the coalition has accomplished a lot in a short time to make "Delaware's children the healthiest in the nation." On Thursday, Nov. 15, members of the coalition gathered at the Seaford Golf and Country Club to celebrate their one-year anniversary and honor several people. John Hollis, founding member of the coalition, and the group's fearless visionary, spoke on behalf of staff and volunteers thanking more than 125 partner organizations who have come together on behalf of Sussex County's children. Among those attending the dinner were representatives of local school districts; Trinity Transport, Inc.; Discover Bank; The Banning Foundation; Nemours Health and Prevention Services; Seaford and Laurel Boy's and Girl's Clubs; Darrell Meade of ASAP Printing; and staff members and volunteers who work on behalf of the Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition. Hollis and the Birthday Planning Committee gave a special thank you to Peggy Geisler of PMG Consulting for her tireless efforts. Hollis also shared his thoughts on working in the local community and how we can harvest good news.

"No social change comes about without the grassroots commitment to change, and this is what we have here in Seaford," said Hollis. Hollis commented that the most valuable thing people can do to help others, especially children, in their communities is to "share your time and talents to improve the life of a child."

LifeCare works to improve transitional experiences
LifeCare at Lofland Park joined a statewide collaborative to improve a patient's experience when transitioning from one health care setting to another. LifeCare is one of several agencies, including hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and physician offices, that will be working together to improve the transitions a patient makes from entry into a hospital, transfer to a long-term care or rehabilitation facility, and then returning to home with or without home care. The Collaborative is being led by Quality Insights of Delaware, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for the First State. The LifeCare team consists of Vicki Givens, administrator; Becky Patterson, director of nursing; Onna Outten, case manager; Christy Potter, admissions assessment coordinator; Kathy Hill, RN manager for Subacute; Deidre Weston, RN admission/discharge liaison; and Melissa Banks-Sockriter, RN BSN, education coordinator. The team recently attended the Improving Transitions of Care Collaborative Learning Session I in Dover, and displayed a storyboard about the facility. The participants will meet three times, and conclude the collaborative in June 2008 with an Outcomes Congress. "We want to provide the best care possible for those in our facility and ensure a seamless transition to the next level, whether that be to home or another healthcare setting." "This collaborative will allow healthcare organizations of all different types the ability to partner together and to improve quality as our common goal," said Becky Patterson, director of nursing at LifeCare at Lofland Park. A collaborative is a systematic approach to healthcare quality improvement, in which providers test and measure innovations, then share their experiences to accelerate learning and implementation of best practices. Measurable objectives include reviewing the completion and timeliness in delivery of a patient's discharge summary to his/her Community Primary Care Physician, patient discharge completion and understanding by the patient and family, and rate of return of the patient back to the hospital.

Depression support group in Laurel
The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The purpose of the Laurel Depression Support Group is to share experiences related to living and coping with depression. The group is confidential and offered at no charge. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register by calling 800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. To maintain the privacy of our members, MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Stroke support group
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.