Thursday, March 27, 2014
Every individual deserves respect By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Society changes over time. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there have been many changes to make our environment more accessible to those individuals. During that time, we have become more understanding and accepting of individuals with physical disabilities. We have seen similar changes in society in the area of gay rights.  However, there is one group of individuals who are deserving of that same respect from society. These are individuals who have just below average intelligence. They are currently referred to as intellectually disabled. The terms have changed over the years. However, even as the name has changed, society has continued to not accept these individuals as they should. Even Shakespeare made fun of the idiot. The village idiot became a common term. In the 1800s, the term imbecile was used. In an attempt to change the perception associated with these terms, a physician created a new one in 1910. He coined the term moron. For a while, this worked. However, over time, it also took on the meaning of its predecessors. The next term that was used was feebleminded. This was common in the 1940s. Unfortunately, so was another movement. It was more ominous. At the time that Hitler was doing his ethnic cleansing in Europe, there were Americans with similar ideas. They were advocating at least sterilization and even euthanasia of these individuals. They had one regret. They did not think the political climate would support their ideas. They were clearly misguided. In the 1960s, the term mental retardation came into common use. That too was part of an effort to change the terms so that respect could be obtained for these individuals. That worked for a while. But then it also became a pejorative term over time.  Recently, the term has changed again. We now refer to individuals with slightly less than average intelligence as having intellectual disability. This is more in line with recognizing that this is a disability that we often do not recognize. We also do not often respect it as a disability.  One condition that causes intellectual disability is Downs Syndrome. Over the years, we as a society have come to show more respect for these individuals. We now need to extend that respect to others.  There are some actions that we can take as individuals. The first is to go to the website that is titled On that site you can take a pledge. The pledge is as follows: I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. There are other things that we can do. We can make sure that we do not exclude these children from activities. They should be able to participate in things like class birthday parties. They should participate in sports other than the Special Olympics. They should be given reasonable jobs. They can do most jobs very well. Those that involve complex decision making are harder to do. They should be given reasonable pay. Employers tend to take advantage of these individuals.  We should not insist on them being put in special classes. We should not object to group homes being established in our neighborhood. Their disability is not contagious. It does not cause them to do evil things. As a society, we cannot just think that changing names every 30 to 40 years is the solution for something which is a societal problem at heart. We need to understand that a few IQ points does not make a person any less of a human being than the rest of us. 

If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

PHC recognizes area physicians

National Doctors Day (Thursday, March 30) is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of physicians who serve the country by caring for its citizens, and the doctors of Delmarva will not be forgotten. Doctors are the lynchpins of medical care, said Therese Ganster, Peninsula Home Care community liaison. We have so many tremendous doctors in this region  Ive never worked in a community where the doctors are as involved in every aspect of care as they are here. It helps to make providing care for patients across Delmarva a true team situation, and acknowledging them on a special day is a great way to recognize their contributions. Peninsula Home Care recognizes the importance of each partnership it shares with local physicians to better serve patients. The teams of nurses and therapists in the Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Sussex County regions actively share medical information, educational materials and resources with the physicians involved in the plan of care for each patient.    Dr. Joe Kim, a family physician, the president of medical staff at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the medical director for Peninsula Home Care at Nanticoke, has been in practice for eight years. Kim sees the benefit of working with an entire team of healthcare professionals and including the patient and caregiver in the plan of care.    I like taking care of people and I am a huge advocate of home health care, said Dr. Kim. When home care nurses and therapists educate the patient and caregivers on the condition, plan of care and how to better manage their illness at home, it allows for a much smoother recovery period.  Kim noted that the home care staff serve as eyes and ears for doctors in the home. If a nurse recognizes duplications in medications the patient is taking at home, they will immediately call my office so we can take care of it. The level of education and monitoring they do in the home translates into better outcomes for the patient which is what we all strive for, Kim added.  Our goal is the same as the doctors: get the patient well and keep him well.

That is why teamwork and tools are so important, and it is why days like National Doctors Day are so significant; they remind us to appreciate the people who are on the medical front lines  in this case the doctors, Ganster added.

HIV Consortium awards celebration Tickets are on sale for the Delaware HIV Consortiums 10th Annual WOW Awards Celebration, being held on Friday, April 25, at the Clarion Hotel in New Castle. Acclaimed by Delaware Today magazine as the best party in Delaware for a great cause, the celebration honors individuals and corporations for their excellence in community leadership, volunteerism and philanthropy in the field of HIV/AIDS. For ticket information, visit or call 302-654-5471.

Photography For Wellness event The Cancer Support Community  Delaware will offer Art HOPE: Photography For Wellness at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, April 10, at its Sussex facility. Pamela Montague, photographer and social worker, will engage with you to explore and recognize the benefits of photography. She will help you construct stationery to share with those you love, or to acknowledge support, inspiration, energy or guidance by sharing your personal vision and message through her collection of photographs called Sand Scripts. You can select from Pams inspiring photographs or bring your own photos to use. Photography For Wellness is part of the Art HOPE (Healing Opportunities for Personal Expression) series. Call 645-9150 to reserve your spot for the session. For more information, visit

Show doctors your appreciation Diagnoses, surgeries, treatments and care  the number of ways doctors improve and save lives are innumerable. Since 1933, March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors Day to recognize the valuable contributions of physicians in the community. On Delmarva, patients at Peninsula Regional Medical Center often have excellent stories of how their own doctors have made a difference. Teresa Williams of Laurel said her doctor always kept a close watch on her health due to a family history of health issues, but when a mass was discovered on her kidney, she was determined to overcome it. She thanked Dr. Mark Edney, who removed her tumor while sparing her kidney using robotic surgery. She said he took the time to talk with her about her options and the procedure, and made her feel comfortable with it. In addition to providing a special breakfast and lunch for its physicians on Doctors Day, PRMC invites community members whose lives have been touched by doctors to send an online thank you to the physician of their choice. Throughout March, visit the Peninsula Regional Doctors Day site at The site offers a space to share stories and gratitude; the notes will be delivered to the doctor selected.

Parkinson support group The Parkinson Education and Support Group of Sussex County will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 7, in The Lutheran Church of Our Savior, 20276 Bay Vista Rd., Rehoboth Beach. Note the new meeting time and location. The speaker will be neurologist, Dr. Lawrence Kemp. The public is invited to attend. Contact Dennis Leebel, 644-3465, for more information.

Plea to stop tobacco products Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and his colleagues in 27 U.S. states and territories are encouraging five of the nations largest retail pharmacies to cease selling tobacco products in their stores. The attorneys general sent letters to Walgreen Co., Walmart Inc., Safeway Inc., Kroger Co. and Rite Aid Corp, urging them to follow the decision that CVS made last month to stop tobacco-product sales. In the letters, the attorneys general point out that tobacco-related diseases kill 480,000 people in the United States every year, which is more than AIDS, alcohol, illegal drug use, car accidents and firearms-related deaths combined.

Al-Anon Spring Workshop Al-Anon Spring Workshop, Healing Is In The Sharing, will be held at Reformation Lutheran Church, 613 Lakewood Ave. (at Kent Place), Milford, on Saturday, March 29. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the program is from 9 to noon. All are welcome. For questions, call Suzanne at 718-938-5726.

Red Cross launches campaign The American Red Cross Delmarva Region has launched its Fire Hurts campaign in response to their record-setting disaster response in January. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, 2014, the local Red Cross assisted 248 individuals after 45 disasters, many of them home fires, throughout the Delmarva Peninsula. Following a disaster, the Red Cross provides families with their immediate emergency needs. If you would like to make a difference, consider making a donation to the Fire Hurts campaign by calling 1-800-777-6620, ext. 6248. If you are interested in volunteering, visit

Rachels Challenge The community is invited to hear the inspiring story of Rachel Joy Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, during Rachels Challenge, a bullying and violence abatement program, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 8, at Phillis Wheatley Middle School in Bridgeville. Rachels Challenge will inspire others to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion. This program is suitable for kids in 6th grade and up. For more information, visit