Thursday, May 10, 2012
What we can do to raise the education standards in Seaford By Dr. Anthony Policastro Recently, Dr. Joseph, the Seaford School Board superintendent, wrote a letter to the editor of the Star. It was in response to a letter that had been written a few weeks earlier. Both letters dealt with expectations for the students attending schools in Sussex County. I wanted to weigh in on some of the comments. The first issue has to do with what we know about students attending schools in poor neighborhoods versus more affluent ones. In general, children do better when they attend schools in neighborhoods that are more affluent. We also know that if a child moves from a poor neighborhood to a more affluent neighborhood, that child will likely do better in school. The level of poverty in an area does have a general effect on the performance of children in the schools. There are multiple reasons for that. A second issue has to do with intelligence. Intelligence is like any other human trait. Most people have average intelligence. Some are a little above and some are a little below. Poverty does not discriminate toward intelligence. Therefore, we can expect children in any school system to have the same overall average intelligence as we see in other area. The same is true for children who live in a rural area. The result of these two issues - poverty and intelligence - is that children have the same abilities but there are effects on their performance depending on where they live. However, while those are both factors, neither one of them was at issue in the discussion that took place. What was at the center of that discussion was what the expectations should be for our children. One could make a case for low expectations based upon the area in which we live. One could also make a case for high expectations based upon the fact that intelligence in our children is going to be as good as in any other area. There is one thing that is clear. If the bar is set low with relatively few expectations, then that is as high as we can expect our children to perform. If we want our children to do as well as they can, the expectations have to be set high. When I was a commanding officer in the Air Force, I had a management philosophy. Part of that philosophy was what I called "confidence." It was my version of a can-do attitude. The point I made was that if we decide that something cannot be done, we will not even try. The only thing that it guarantees is that we will not do it. However, if we get rid of that attitude and give difficult things a try, there is no telling what we can accomplish. I used to tell people, "I like tilting at windmills. They don't often fall down. But when they do, they make a wonderful thud." My hospital tilted at a lot of windmills. We were named in the top 10% of Air Force hospitals twice. The Air Force IG team gave the hospital the second highest rating any hospital had ever received. I was not the one who accomplished these things. It was the people who believed that they could do it that get the credit. We need to have the same kind of "can do" attitude where our children are concerned. It needs to be something that is a community effort. The standards need to be set high. I applaud Dr Joseph in his approach. Now we need to have each parent who has a child in our school system to develop that same attitude and do everything they can to make sure that their children approach, reach or exceed those expectations.

Gwanmesia elected BNA president A Bayhealth nurse has been elected president of the Black Nurses Association (BNA) of the First State. Eunice Gwanmesia, RN, MSN, MSHCA, is a staff nurse on the 4A Medical Surgical Unit at Bayhealth Kent General, and is also a full-time faculty member in the Department of Nursing at Delaware State University. Gwanmesia is a member of the Bayhealth Cultural Diversity Committee and the chair of the Delaware State University Department of Nursing Cultural Heritage Committee. "We hope to raise awareness about health disparities here in the state of Delaware and find a common voice to address the issues," said Gwanmesia, who notes that the Black Nurses Association of the First State has 30 active members and will be chartered at the 40th Annual Conference of the National Black Nurses Association in Orlando, Florida this coming July. To join the Black Nurses Association of the First State, contact Eunice Gwanmesia at or 302-399-5776.

DHIN website renovated Awareness and understanding of the benefits of a robust state-wide health information exchange have taken a positive step forward with the launch of the Delaware Health Information Network's (DHIN's) completely renovated website: The public can now receive valuable information on the site about personal health records and can see their physicians' participation in DHIN. Medical providers can use the site to access the secure medical history of their patients. More than 7,000,000 clinical results and reports are posted on DHIN each year. Total patient records in the system now exceed 1.1 million and include records for patients from all 50 states. For more information about DHIN, and to enroll, visit or call 302-678-0220.

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on May 15, 22, 29, and June 5 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the hospital. Registration is required. 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. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and for more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

First aid classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community First Aid classes to anyone interested in learning first aid on Tuesday, May 15 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn basic first aid that will enable them to administer help during the first few moments until emergency responders arrive. Classes are open to participants ages 13 and up. The course covers cognitive learning, role-playing, and skill practice. Cost is $30. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations (if seating is available) will be an additional $5 fee. To register, or for more information, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

New Parkinson's Support Group A new Parkinson's Support Group has started in Seaford. The group's first meeting was held on April 16, at the Nanticoke Senior Center. There were 24 people in attendance, half with Parkinson's, and half caregivers. The May meeting and all future meetings will be held on the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Senior Center. The agenda for the May meeting will be a discussion of the National Parkinson Foundation's (NPF) 'Hospitalization' Initiative. All members will be given a NPF Hospitalization Kit. Lunch and a social period will immediately follow the meeting. The group will focus on educating members about Parkinson's through guest speakers and small group discussions. Persons with other movements disorders are welcome to join the group as much of what is discussed is not limited to Parkinson's. The value of exercise will be continually stressed and an exercise class for the group will be started in the near future. New members are encouraged to attend. Reservations or advance notification is not required. For more information, call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, at the Seaford Library. The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

Planetree coordinator appointed Bayhealth has appointed Donna Henderson as the new Planetree coordinator for Bayhealth Kent General and Milford Memorial. In this newly created role, Henderson will help further develop Bayhealth's Planetree model of patient-centered care. Henderson has been at Bayhealth for 22 years, serving as supervisor of Admissions for 12 years and as customer service facilitator for 10 years. Henderson earned her bachelor of science in education from Delaware State University. She is a native Delawarean.

Henderson has served on the Delaware Humanities Council since 2008 and has been the group's executive secretary since 2010. She also serves on the Schwartz Center for the Arts' board of directors.

Project to expand broadband access Internet access has almost become a necessity for the American way of life. That's increasingly true for seniors and the disabled, who are turning to the web to tap into resources and programs that can enrich and improve their lives. Doug Tuttle, policy scientist with the University of Delaware Institute for Public Administration, will be the featured guest speaker at the May meeting of the Sussex County Advisory Committee for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities. Tuttle, principle investigator for the Delaware State Broadband Project, will talk about the initiative to assess broadband access in Delaware and identify areas where improvements will be in order. The goal is to help elderly and disabled populations use broadband to better access services they need. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 21, at the County Administrative Offices West Complex, 22215 N. DuPont Blvd., in Georgetown. For more information, visit the committee's webpage at

Free stroke risk scorecards A baseball game wouldn't be the same if the teams didn't keep track of the score, and as in any sport, it is important to keep the score when it comes to personal health. Tracking what one is doing well and what improvements or changes are needed can lead to a healthier, more active life. Stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and food. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. "The best way to protect oneself from stroke is to understand the risk factors and how to manage them," said Therese Ganster, Peninsula Home Care branch director. "Risks can easily be assessed during a regular physical with your doctor. The good news is that strokes can be treated and prevented." The best way to protect oneself from stroke is to understand the risk factors and how to manage them. For more information on stroke awareness and to download your free Stroke Risk Scorecard, visit or call 410- 543-7550.

Drug Take-Back Event a success Delaware residents participated in the 2012 Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28 in record numbers, turning in more than 6,808 pounds of unwanted or expired medications at the 31 take-back sites statewide. Since the first statewide Drug Take Back event in 2010, the five Take-Back Days have collected a total of 17,651 pounds of medicines. The Take-Back events are a significant piece of DPH's prescription drug abuse prevention efforts and the Prescription Drug Action Committee. The Prescription Drug Action Committee (PDAC) is a partnership with the Medical Society of Delaware. The DPAC is looking at permanent ways that other states use to encourage people to turn in expired and unused medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month. Often, some of these medicines languish in the home and are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. For more information on future Drug Take-Back Day events or recommendations on handling prescription drugs in the interim, contact DPH's Healthy Homes Program at 1-800-464-HELP (4357). The next Drug Take-Back Day is planned for October.

DE-Feet Breast Cancer Walk Tanger Outlets Rehoboth will host a 5K Run/Walk and 1-Mile Walk to benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition on Sunday, May 20. The race begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 9 a.m. Cost is $20 per person ($25 the day of the event). All ages are invited to participate. Run or walk, form a team. Pre-register to get a t-shirt. There will be individual and team awards. Lace up and register now at

Milford Memorial Hospital Fair The Bayhealth Milford Memorial Auxiliary sponsors the 55th Annual Milford Memorial Hospital Fair on Saturday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the grounds of Milford Middle School. The entire family will enjoy a Civil War re-enactment, the 4th Annual Tricycle Race, children's games, stock car track, strolling entertainer, rides and inflatables, a petting zoo, great food, crafts, and vendors' booths, as well as a full schedule of entertainment throughout the day that includes the Milford's Got Talent Show. There will also be a special tent offering free health screenings and the Planetree Carnival showcasing Bayhealth's Planetree model of patient-centered care. The kick-off to the 55th Annual Milford Memorial Hospital Fair will be a pulled pork or chicken dinner plus flower and book sales on Friday evening, May 18 from 5:30 to 7. To purchase tickets for the dinner, call George Caccamise at 302-422-6815. The Hospital Fair Raffle will give you the chance to choose from three prizes - a two night stay for two at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehoboth, dinner for two at Back Porch Cafe, and massages for two at Bad Hair Day; an original 11 x 14 framed photo "Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, Italy" from photographer Bob Connelly and dinner for two at Bonz Restaurant; or dinner for two from five local restaurants - Abbott's Grill, Bethany Blues, The Buttery, Georgia House and Restaurant 55. Raffle tickets are $2 each or six tickets for $10 and may be purchased in the Reflections Gift Shop at Milford Memorial, Retail Shop at Kent General, EcoChic Boutique and Dolce in downtown Milford or by calling 302-233-8448. Winning tickets will be drawn at the end of the fair. Net proceeds from this year's fair will be used to purchase equipment for the surgical units. Visit for more information. For questions about the fair, call Kim Wilkins at 302-430-5719.

Advanced medical billing and coding Training programs in the health professions continue to provide students with the skills to start a career in this high demand area. The Sussex Tech Adult Division is offering a variety of programs to prepare students for successful careers. Space is still available in the Advanced Medical Billing and Coding class that will begin on May 17. Students will learn more advanced skills and coding using the ICD and CPT Coding. Charting and more detailed applications are included. Basic Billing and Coding is required prior to enrollment in the advanced class. Classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday evening from May 17 through June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost of the course is $399. For more information, contact the Sussex Tech Adult Division at 856-9035 or visit

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Safe Boating Class The United States Power Squadron will conduct a Safe Boating Course at the Nanticoke River Yacht Club from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. The fee is $20 per person or $30 for up to three in the same family. Students must be at least 12-years-old to take this class. Course books will be given to study in advance which is strongly encouraged. Contact C.M. Kohlenberg at 629-0687 or Rob Hutton at 628-0312 for more information.