Thursday, March 26, 2009
What to consider when selecting a pediatrician
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

Most patients will look very carefully for a new physician for themselves. They will ask others what they think. They will look at how convenient the office is. They will see if the physician's personality suits them. There are a number of factors involved. However, there often is less homework done when selecting a physician for a new baby. When I make rounds on newborns, it is very common to find parents who have not thought about who will be following their child. Since the initial well baby visit is at two weeks of age, there is not a lot of time for research after the delivery. In addition, there are many newborn issues that will require a visit to the new physician within a few days. These include weight gain issues, jaundice and feeding problems. All of those require a visit to someone that you feel comfortable with. When I was in the Air Force, many people in the hospital asked me to follow their children. They usually asked me when they first found out that they were having a baby. That way, I could see the infant in the nursery. It allowed me to give advice from the very start. I used to have what we called a 7 month orientation. We would have about 50 women attend at the 7th month of pregnancy. Topics would include communication. They would include feeding. They would include circumcision. They would include car seat safety. They would include guilt about birth defects. All of these are things that can be covered even prior to delivery. Some physicians still like to meet with the parents before delivery. The decision involves many choices. The first of those is related to whether to see a pediatrician or a family physician. Most infants are healthy. Care can be given by either a pediatrician or a family physician. A few infants may have major complications in the newborn period. The pediatrician might be more appropriate for those infants. The second decision is the location of the practice. Infants and young children have many visits to the doctor's office. You probably do not want someone who is located at a distance. The third is related to after hours availability. Some practices are easier to reach after hours than others. You will ultimately have a need for after hours questions. You need to be comfortable with the method used by the practice. The fourth is related to how comfortable you feel with the physician and his or her partners. You will have to rely on someone other than the primary physician if he/she is out of town when your child gets sick. You need to have that same comfort level with all members of the practice. The fifth is related to how you want things explained. Some physicians are very directive in their advice. Some parents like that. Other physicians are more participative. Some other patients prefer that approach. The list goes on and on. However, the most important thing to remember is that you should take the decision seriously. You should carefully select the individual that you want to work with you to take care of your infant. Put as much work into the process as you do when you are choosing your own physician.

CHEER plans healthy living expo On Tuesday, April 21 the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown will host a free Healthy Living Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Healthy Living Expo, which is open to the public, has room for more vendors to set up a table at the expo. The fee is $75 or $50 if you offer a health screening. For registration or more information, call 302-854-9500.

Nanticoke offers cholesterol class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next cholesterol class is Tuesday, March 31 at 5 p.m. at the hospital. The class will focus on foods and eating habits that may help manage cholesterol levels and incorporate practical suggestions for overcoming the barriers to eating in a heart healthy way. Topics include risk factors, saturated, unsaturated fats, trans fats, portion sizes and other American Heart Association guidelines. Class fee is $20 and pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2455.

Diabetes education classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford will hold a four-session diabetes educational program beginning Wednesday, April 8 and continuing April 15, 22 and 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the hospital. Registration is required and the cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Stroke and Osteoporosis Screening Residents living in and around the Seaford community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. The Seaford VFW Post #4961 will host Life Line Screening on April 8. The site is located at 9767 Middleford Road in Seaford. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is 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. Packages start at $139. All five screenings take 60-90 minutes to complete. For more information call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

Caregiver training available The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. Delaware Hospice Center at 100 Patriots Way in Milford will host the training on Friday, April 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. Training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Delaware Hospice. Pre-registration is required by Friday, April 17. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee at 302-854-9788.

Hospice promotes Decisions Day Have you thought about your future health care? The term "Advance Directive" may sound intimidating or irrelevant, but the reality is that every adult should have one. An Advance Directive enables individuals to make legally valid decisions regarding future medical treatment, in the event that they are unable to speak for themselves, and ensures that those wishes are carried out in the manner they have chosen. This document records your medical care preferences for your physician, loved ones and clergy, and relieves the decision-making burden from your family members. Delaware Hospice is participating in a national effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-makingan effort that has culminated in the formal designation of April 16, 2009 as National Healthcare Decisions Day. Representatives from Delaware Hospice will be available throughout April to speak to your organization about Advance Directives. For more information, call 1-800-838-9800, and ask for the Community Ed representative for your area.

Nurses' assistant program Become a member of the rapidly expanding health care field by taking the evening nurses' assistant course, offered through Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. Instruction will be given at LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford and Delaware Tech in Georgetown from April 27 to June 25; classes will meet on Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. This 150-hour course teaches students to safely perform basic nursing skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Graduates will be prepared to take the Nurse Aid Competency Exam for certification. All nurses' assistants must take this exam to be certified to work in Delaware. Funding through the Department of Labor and limited scholarships are available for this course. For complete information, contact Delaware Tech's Corporate and Community Programs at 302-854-6966.

Buffet benefits LifeCare LifeCare at Lofland Park will host a buffet dinner at the Georgia House Restaurant in Laurel on Monday, March 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. Carryout is available. Adults are $16.99 each, ages 4 to 12 cost $8.99, and ages 3 and under eat free with a paying adult. All money raised will be used for entertainment costs for residents at LifeCare at Lofland Park. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 628-3000, ext. 8300 or via email at