Thursday, July 10, 2008
There is a lot we can do for children in Delaware

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Delaware does a fine job of providing health care coverage to children. The Medicaid program and the CHIPS program provide large safety nets for the children of our State. However, both of these programs are supported by our tax dollars. For that reason, we all have a role in making sure that our children stay as healthy as possible. We certainly do that for our own children. We need to think about how we can do that for the children that our tax dollars support. Two areas in particular offer us that opportunity. One has to do with accidents. Accidents remain the largest cause of childhood injury and death. For that reason, we spend a lot of money taking care of children who have been in accidents. There are many things we can do to encourage our friends and neighbors to keep their children safe. One of those is locking up firearms. About 20% of families with firearms keep them loaded and unlocked. Children are injured because of playing with these firearms. Another is to avoid trampolines. These account for over 50,000 ER visits per year. Most of those visits are for broken arms and legs. Some of them are for broken necks with paralysis. Making sure that bicycle riders wear helmets is another easy thing to encourage. I see a lot of patients in the office that do not wear helmets. I see a lot of bicycle riders on the street that do not wear helmets. Head trauma is a costly injury to treat. Automobile accidents remain the number one killer of children. They also cause serious injuries to many others. Those injuries are often very costly to treat. We need to make sure we encourage car seat and seat belt use in all children that we know. That is especially true when children other than our own ride in our cars. The other area that we can perhaps make an impact is in premature birth. While we do not know enough about premature births to stop them all, we are a lot smarter than we used to be. There are things that we can do to decrease the risk of premature birth. Unfortunately, in many cases, women who deliver prematurely have not had any prenatal care. The typical costs of a sick premature infant run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ultimately, we all pay for that care. We need to do our best to encourage pregnant women to get early prenatal care. That is especially true if they have already had one premature infant. Those women are at risk for another premature delivery. However, we also know that there are hormone shots that we can give to prevent that second premature delivery. We just cannot give those shots if we are not seeing the patient. We can all do our share to help improve the safety of or children. In the process we might just save ourselves some tax dollars.

Keep kids cool this summer

Governor Ruth Ann Minner will join members of the board of directors and staff of Delaware Guidance Services for Children & Youth, Inc. on Wednesday, July 30, at 11:30 a.m., as they celebrate the opening of a new mental health clinic in Seaford. Last August, Gillis, Gilkerson Inc. broke ground on the new 6,900 square foot building, located at 900 Health Services Dr. in the new Herring Run Professional Center on Alternate Route 13 North. At the building's opening, DGS board and staff members will celebrate more than just the end of construction – they will also celebrate the culmination of three years of planning, deliberation, fine-tuning and fundraising. The facility will give Delaware Guidance Services enough space to triple its caseload in western Sussex County from 500 to 1,500 children and their families. Programs being offered through this new facility include outpatient clinical services, intensive outpatient clinical services, school-based counseling, and 24-hour mobile crisis intervention. Says DGS Executive Director Bruce Kelsey, "We are very excited by the opportunities this new facility provides to expand our services in western Sussex County. This new building is a testament to our commitment to the community and to providing quality mental health services to children and their families, regardless of their ability to pay." For more information, contact Cathy Rose, Sussex County Clinical director, at 302-262-3505. Delaware Guidance Services for Children & Youth, Inc. has been serving Delaware's families for 55 years and is the largest provider of mental health services for children and youth in the state. DGS serves over 10,000 children and their families annually with a continuum of mental health programs offered through clinics in Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Lewes and Seaford.

Alzheimer's holds training The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. Milford Center Genesis Healthcare at 700 Marvel Road in Milford will host the training on Aug. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Milford Center, therefore pre-registration is required by July 23. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 302-854-9788.

Kids health fair Kids can learn how to live healthy lives on Tuesday, July 22 at the Nemours Health and Prevention Services' Healthy Kids Day Health Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the fairgrounds in Harrington, in the Delaware Electric Cooperative's free entertainment tent located near the Midway entrance. With 23 vendors, this event covers physical activity, nutrition, disease prevention, immunizations, cancer prevention and early detection, and injury prevention. Original members of the Titans football team (they inspired Disney's "Remember the Titans" movie) will visit at 9:30 a.m. and offer a 10 a.m. autograph session; Miss Delaware follows at noon, and Grover from Sesame Street will appear at 1:30 p.m. There will also be cup stacking demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nemours Health and Prevention Services is promoting its "5-2-1 and Almost None" campaign. Visitors will receive giveaways and complimentary information about immunizations, safe drinking water, preventing lead exposure, healthy homes and the necessity of safe food and beverages. Kids can play musical chairs or enjoy the speed cup stacking demonstration. For information about the Delaware State Fair's other events, visit

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 not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Oncology symposium The Sixth Annual Seaside Oncology Symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach. The Tunnell Cancer Center and the Medical Society of Delaware sponsor this annual, half-day symposium to update participants on the diagnosis and management of cancer. It is designed for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The conference, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends with lunch at 1 p.m., is planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint-sponsorship of the Medical Society of Delaware and Beebe Medical Center. The Seaside Oncology Symposium is supported by unrestricted educational grants from various pharmaceutical companies and programs. Details regarding this year's topics and speakers will be available soon. Hotel reservations may be made directly with the Boardwalk Plaza at 800-332-3224.

Depression support 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 MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Caregiver support group Join our monthly support group at the Cheer community center, the second Monday of each month at 11 a.m., 854-9500.This support group is for you, whether you are a new caregiver or have been taking care of a loved one for years. We are turning the "Fearless caregiver" book into a guide for our support group. Each month a chapter will be discussed, concerns shared and support given.

Weight Loss Surgery Support The Western New Life WLS Support Group will be having its monthly meeting on July 17. We meet at Trinity United Methodist Church, 17249 Phillips Hill Road, Laurel. We meet each third Thursday of the month. Everyone who has had, or is thinking about, having weight loss surgery is welcome. The theme of the July 17 meeting is craft night - we'll be making new bracelets for our medical IDs. Group Leaders: Jennifer Rosen ( and Heather O'Connor (