Thursday, July 26, 2012
Need for respite care is increasing

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

The term respite care is one that many people may not have heard before. However, it is likely to be a term that many more people will hear in the coming years. There are medical conditions that used to be fatal early in life. We have learned how to treat them. A good example is cystic fibrosis. When I first went into pediatrics children with cystic fibrosis died young. Now most of those children live well into adulthood. There are medical conditions that used to shorten the lifespan of older individuals. However, medical care has now prolonged the lives of individuals with these chronic conditions. That is a very positive thing for the individuals who suffer from these medical conditions. It is also positive for the family who does not lose a loved one too soon. However, there is one thing that is sometimes forgotten with all of this progress. Even though medical care has improved, it has also become more intense. It requires a great deal more time for the individual who is sick to care for himself/herself. It also requires more time for those who help care for that individual. In some cases, the amount of time involves hours per day. In other cases, it may involve the entire day. I see many patients with autism. Some of these patients have such severe autism that they need to monitored all day, every day. There are some elderly patients who need the same kind of time spent with them on a daily basis. They may not be ill enough to be in a nursing home or the family may prefer that they do not go to a nursing home. They may also not be able to afford a nursing home. All of these situations have one thing in common. The family is now required to spend much of their time with the individual. For families with multiple family members who can do that, there is an opportunity to share that workload. That is not always the case. A single mother might have no one to help her with her autistic child. A single child might have no one to help him/her with a sickly parent. A child may have siblings who live at a great distance and cannot help with an elderly parent. The term respite care comes into play in these situations. You may not be able to hire the neighborhood teenager to watch the autistic child. You may not be able to afford to have a nurse come in to help with an elderly parent. In those situations, there is a need to provide the caregiver with some time off which provides an opportunity for caregivers to recharge their batteries. It helps them to keep going. Respite care is what that time off refers to. As a society we have an obligation to recognize these situations. We need to see what role we can play in helping with these situations. As the baby boomers age and have a prolonged life span, there will be more of these individuals. As medical care progresses, we will have more people who become chronically ill rather than dying from a formerly fatal illness. Their caregivers may not be able to cope. We need to understand that respite care is not something that the individual can make happen. The overwhelmed individual caring for a loved one is too involved in doing just that. They do not have the time or energy to look at making respite care happen. We need to help do that for them. It may be through a church group or some other community organization. The one thing that is clear is the need is going to increase over time. What is also clear is that respite care is a term many more of us will learn to deal with in the future. If any readers have a topic that they would like Dr. Policastro to cover, please email their suggestions to

ALA hosts skydiving fundraiser Take a leap to make the air cleaner and healthier. The American Lung Association in Delaware is sponsoring the Third Annual "Fighting for Air at All Extremes," a skydiving fundraiser. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 at Skydive Delmarva on 32524 Aero Dr., Rt. 24 West, Laurel. Lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Lung Association's State of the Air 2012, more than 140,000 Delawareans suffer from asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema - all forms of lung disease. The ALA-DE hopes to raise $40,000 to support lung health research, education and advocacy efforts. Participants of Fighting for Air at All Extremes can join the jump as an individual, team, volunteer or sponsor. There is a registration fee of $25 per participant. All skydivers must be 18 or older. A fundraising minimum of $300 is required to receive a tandem jump. All fundraisers will receive gift bags and t-shirts. The top fundraiser will take home a special prize and all participants who raise $500 or more will be entered into a raffle for some great prizes. To register, contact Kelli Burris at 302-737-6414, ext. 14 or at or visit

Bayhealth Kent General in top Becker Hospital Review has named Bayhealth Kent General as one of the nation's top 100 community hospitals. To compile this list, the Becker's Hospital Review editorial team analyzed information, recognition and rankings from a variety of industry sources. Becker Hospital Review acknowledged Bayhealth Kent General as one of the first in Delaware to offer intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatment for cancer. The publication also recognized Bayhealth for its new Wound Care Center which provides specialized treatment for chronic and non-healing wounds.

West Nile Virus is in wild birds An American crow submitted to the Delaware Public Health Laboratory by Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark on July 8 has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

The bird was collected in the Newark area. WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that affects humans and horses. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, another mosquito-borne disease that also affects humans and horses, has not been detected yet in 2012. However, peak activity in the mid-Atlantic region for both WNV and EEE typically occurs from about the first week in August through the second week in October, so findings in host wild birds or mosquitoes could occur and increase over the next several weeks, with possible transmission to humans or horses. Sick or dead wild birds for the species of interest (crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks and owls) in monitoring for West Nile virus can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section from Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. by calling the Milford Office, serving Sussex and southern Kent counties south of Dover, at 302-422-1512.

Morris promoted at NHS Nanticoke Health Services announces that Reneé S. Morris has been promoted to executive director of the Nanticoke Health Services Foundation. Morris will be responsible for the fundraising activities of the Foundation, including the planning and execution of programs for annual giving, major gifts, grants, special events, and planned gifts. Morris began her career with Nanticoke Health Services in 1991 and has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit healthcare. She has held leadership positions for fundraising and marketing throughout her career at Nanticoke. She serves on several community organizations and is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those in Seaford and surrounding communities. She is a recipient of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce Athena Women's Leadership award.

Summer celebration of hope On Aug. 14, "A Summertime Beach Party" will be held to benefit patients at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center. Enjoy this Longaberger Breast Cancer fundraiser, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Heritage Shores with friends, family and Pink Sand Premier sponsor Sussex County Federal Credit Union. In addition to celebrating survivors and honoring loved ones, each attendee will receive a 2012 Horizon of Hope Basket and dinner while also enjoying fun activities, a silent auction as well as a premiere of Longaberger holiday products. For tickets call 628-1132.

BIAD hosts annual Crab Feast The Brain Injury Association of Delaware (BIAD) is hosting its fifth annual Crab Feast Fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. The menu includes all you can eat crabs, corn on the cob, chicken tenders, french fries, and non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar will be available and benefits the Leipsic Fire Company. Cost is $32 per person, $8 for kids ages 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5. The event will also feature an "Extreme Bake Sale." There will also be a 50/50, door prizes, and merchandise raffle. Buy tickets online at or call 1-800-411-0505 for more information.

Free to Breathe Delmarva run/walk Register today for the third annual Free to Breathe Delmarva 5K Run/Walk, 1 Mile Walk and Kids' Dash, a fun event for the entire family that brings the community together to inspire hope and create change for everyone impacted by lung cancer. The event will be held on Sunday morning, Aug. 12 at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. Online registration ends Aug. 8. All proceeds support the National Lung Cancer Partnership's vital research, education and awareness programs. For more information, to register or donate, visit

Parkinson's Support Group A Parkinson's Support Group is being held in Seaford on the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The group focuses on educating members about Parkinson's through guest speakers and small group discussions. Persons with other movement disorders are welcome to join the group as much of what is discussed is not limited to Parkinson's. New members are encouraged to attend. Reservations or advance notification is not required. For more information, call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465.

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.

HIV/AIDS Support Group A new support group for HIV/AIDS will meet every other Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Branford Lounge at Epworth United Methodist Church at 19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach. The group is sponsored by Epworth UMC, CAMP Rehoboth, the AIDs Delaware and Delaware HIV Consortium. For more information, contact David at