Medical board is very dedicated
By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I am about to complete my time on the State Board of Medical Licensing and Discipline. I have been on the board for about nine years. A lot of changes have taken place over that period of time. The board has changed its name from the Board of Medical Practice and has also changed its makeup. It has gone from 11 physicians and 5 public members to 7 physicians, 7 public members and the State Director of Public Health (also a physician). The board has recently rewritten its rules and regulations that are in the process of being reviewed. It has put into writing proposed specific punishments for various offenses. It has written policies for prescribing chronic pain medications. It has started using Skype and FaceTime for long distance interviews. In the past all physicians had to physically travel to Delaware for a license. Over the past few years the number of complaints filed with the board has increased from about 110 per year to about 220 which has resulted in an increased amount of time for the board members reviewing the investigations of these complaints. I have just finished reviewing over 500 pages of information for an upcoming discussion about a physician. When I first got on the board, the board had the option of having the Attorney General's office prosecute a physician or doing nothing at all. Since prosecution by the Attorney General's office was a big step and they required a solid case to do so, the board declined to prosecute most of the time which meant that there were few actions taken against physicians. For that reason the Delaware Board consistently ranked 50th out of the 51 states and Washington, D,C. While I was on the board the rules changed and there was more latitude in what actions could be taken. That resulted in the Delaware Board moving from 50th to 44th to 27th to 24th and then 35th. That was about the middle of the pack and made sense. Then there were further changes after Dr. Bradley's actions became known. The result was more complaints and more disciplinary actions. For the last two years, Delaware has been in the top ten of disciplinary actions. This suggests that the pendulum might have actually moved a little too far. What has not changed over the years is the underlying mandate of the board to protect the public. Meetings are open to the public, however, not many attend. If the public did, they would see how seriously the board members take that mandate. There are four ways in which we are able to do this. The first is through the license interview process. Many states do not require a personal interview. Delaware still does. While there are not many instances where this turns up issues, there are some. The most common involves a physician who has been out of practice for a few years and is now looking to go back into practice in Delaware. In these instances we ask that the individual prove his/her competence before granting a license. The second is reviewing complaints. The complaint investigation process is a long and detailed one that I have reviewed in the past and it is beyond the scope of this article. What it does do is ensure that complaints are taken seriously. However, it also ensures that frivolous complaints are not going to impact a physician in the state. We sometimes forget that any adverse action against a physician affects every one of the patients that the physician cares for. The third way is by reviewing reports to the National Practitioner Data Bank. These reports come in two forms. The first involves credential action taken by a Health Care organization against a physician. The second involves those related to malpractice reports. Again the investigation process is fair and complicated. For example, most malpractice cases do represent bad medical practice. They represent bad outcomes that sometimes could not have been helped. The fourth way is in dealing with impaired physicians. This is true of those who are physically impaired or have addiction or mental health issues. Often the general public does not realize how dedicated this group of individuals is to making sure that their best interests are being addressed.
It's National Blood Donor Month January is National Blood Donor Month and Blood Bank of Delmarva is grateful for the generous donors who save lives every day on Delmarva. In 2012, there were more than 80,882 red cell, platelet and plasma donations collected from more than 47,857 donors. The generous gift of life from each donor has helped the Blood Bank avoid blood shortages, even during the most challenging times of year. More than 20,000 local patients will need blood transfusions this year and it takes more than 350 blood donors every day to meet that need. Each year in January and February, blood centers across the U.S. struggle to fill blood donation schedules. Holidays, busy travel schedules, bad weather and illness all combine to make the winter months a time when blood is often in short supply. Blood Bank of Delmarva has four donation centers–in Wilmington, Christiana and Dover and Salisbury, Md. The organization also makes it convenient to donate blood with more than 30 community mobile blood drives that are regularly held throughout the region. Events like the 15th Annual Beach Blanket Blood Drive, slated for Jan. 15 and 16 at the Ocean City Convention Center, also provide opportunities to donate blood throughout the winter months. For more information or to schedule an appointment to give blood, visit www.delmarvablood.org or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8.
CHEER offers support group The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter announces that a support group for the caregivers and families of those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and related disorders will begin meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the CHEER Community Center located at 20520 Sand Hill Rd., Georgetown. This group will meet monthly thereafter on the third Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. This is an open support group sponsored by the association and all interested parties are invited to attend. In addition to the support groups, the Delaware Valley Chapter offers support to caregivers through a 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900, professional and family caregiver education workshops and trainings, care consultation, multicultural outreach, advocacy and a free quarterly informational e-newsletter. For more information, contact Jamie Magee at 854-9788 or 1-800-272-3900.
CPR classes offered 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 receive a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. 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 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.
Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer a free educational program to share diabetes self-management and lifestyle strategies at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28. Roger Baird, a member of the A1C Champions Program and supported by Sanofi, a patient-led approach to diabetes education, will present the program which is based on his extensive training and his personal experience living with diabetes. If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes or has an A1C that is 7% or above, the A1C Champions can provide motivation to take those first steps to better blood glucose control.
Diabetes patients need to know they are not alone and there are people like Roger who can help them along their journey with diabetes. Call 629-6611, ext. 2446, to reserve space for this free event.
First Aid classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community First Aid classes to anyone interested in learning first aid on Tuesday, Jan. 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. Cost is $35. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. To register, or for more information, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.
Stroke support group at NMH Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 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.
Forum offers free health screenings The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) is proud to present its ÁVIDA! Latina Breast Health Forum on Saturday, Jan. 19, at St. John's United Methodist Church located at Pine and Poplar Streets in Seaford from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This one-day conference is free and open to the public. For the past two years, the ÁVIDA! program has been held in Georgetown and this is the first year that the program is expanding to Seaford. ÁVIDA! will be held again in Georgetown later this year. ÁVIDA! is a bilingual (Spanish/English) educational event that focuses on breast cancer screening, treatment and survivorship. Over 200 community members attended last year's VIDA! event. This year's event will feature free health screenings and information about breast health and healthy living. Lunch will be provided for all attendees, but space is limited so those interested are encouraged to register by calling 1-888-672-9647. The Women's Mobile Health Screening (WMHS) Van will be on-site to provide screening mammograms (with a prescription from a doctor). There will also be free screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, HIV testing and clinical breast exams. Beebe Medical Center, La Red Health Center, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Westside Family Healthcare, Practice Without Pressure, and Maxima 900 AM Radio will attend. There will also be SNAP benefits registration provided by the Food Bank of Delaware. Call 1-888-672-9647 for more information.
Cancer Survivorship Conference The Sussex County Survivorship Coalition has organized a conference for cancer survivors and healthcare professionals from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Atlantic Sands Hotel. "After Ringing the Bell: A Cancer Survivorship Conference," is offered at no cost but attendees must register by Jan. 11, by calling Jo Allegro-Smith at 645-9150, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The conference, for which healthcare professionals will be able to earn continuing education units, will focus on helping survivors transition from patient to survivor. It will help attendees to identify tools and tips and to create a core component of a survivor care plan. Survivors and healthcare providers will learn how to identify post treatment emotional concerns as they integrate mind-body medicine in cancer survivorship care. Lille Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, administrative director of both the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and the Johns Hopkins Survivorship Programs, will speak. Clare Wilson, RN, MS, cancer care coordinator at Tunnell Cancer Center, and a certified well coach, will speak about Mindful Living. Other speakers will be: Sage Bolte, PhD, with Inova Health System's Life with Cancer Program; and Judy Pierson, EdD, a licensed psychologist in Rehoboth Beach. A continental breakfast and a lunch will be provided.
Breathe Well facilitator workshop The American Lung Association in Delaware invites all healthcare professionals and professionals trained in asthma management to join them for the Breathe Well, Live Well Facilitator Workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 630 Churchmans Rd., Ste. 202, Newark. The workshop will train qualified health professionals to be Breathe Well, Live Well certified facilitators. Breathe Well, Live Well is an adult asthma management program from the American Lung Association. The workshop costs $300 for the day, with breakfast and lunch included. For more information or to RSVP, call Nicole Goldsboro at 302-737-6414 or email at email@example.com.
Go Red for Women 2013 The Southern Delaware Go Red For Women will be held on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Tickets, which are $35 each, include extensive health screenings, $10 gift card from Macy's, guest gift bag and lunch, entertainment that includes fashion show and silent auction. Table sponsorships are $1,000 and exhibitor sponsorships are $1,500. The event begins at 10 a.m. with lunch and the program starting at noon. For more information, visit www.heart.org/southerndegoredluncheon.
Parkinson's support group meeting The Nanticoke Parkinson's Education and Support Group will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month, from 10 to 11:30 a.m in the ballroom at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The public is welcome to attend the meeting and stay for lunch and a social time after the meeting.
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 UMC 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bariatric surgery info sessions When diet and exercise aren't enough to help you lose weight and keep it off, support and tools are available to help you meet your goals. Bariatric (weight loss) surgery can be the key to helping you get rid of many obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and joint pain. The first step in the process is attending an informational seminar. The Bayhealth Bariatric Program conducts monthly bariatric surgery seminars for people interested in weight loss surgery. The next session will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Milford Memorial Hospital Conference Rooms A & B and Wednesday, Jan. 30 at Kent General Hospital General Foods Conference Rooms 1 & 2. Learn more about the Bayhealth Bariatric Program including the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery (LAP-BAND¨), The Laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass, and the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy. Find out about the risks, benefits and outcomes. Meet the surgeons, and staff of the bariatric program and ask them any questions and see if you meet the criteria for bariatric surgery. These seminars are free of charge and all are welcome. Register by calling the Bayhealth Bariatric Office at 430-5454 or register online at www.bayhealth.org.