Thursday, August 21, 2014
Doctor's Perspective
Take advantage of your memory skills

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Recently, I found a surprise in the Seaford Star. Someone had written a letter thanking me. It harkened back to when I first became the commanding officer at the Langley AFB Hospital in 1989. That was 25 years ago this month. The letter illustrates that fact that we all learn differently. The writer was impressed by the fact that I had just arrived at the hospital and knew her first name. She was even more impressed because she was just a young airman. I learned early on as a commanding officer that there were three key rules to leadership. The first of those was "take care of your people." The second was "take care of your people." The third was "take care of your people." In order to do that, you had to know your people. I am fortunate in that I have a good memory for names. I would work hard at memorizing the first names of all my people. I had 750 personnel who worked for me. I usually averaged knowing the first names of about 94% of them. There was one thing that they did not know. My memory for faces is not good. If I saw someone in uniform, they had their name tag on and I would be able to remember their first name by seeing their last name. However, If I was shopping in the BX or commissary, people were not in uniform and there was no name tag to see. As a matter of fact, I often did not recognize them at all because of my poor memory for faces. We all have different strengths and weaknesses in our memory skills. These include memory for faces and memory for names. We have all experienced a temporary problem with memory for names (or a word). It is when we say something is on the tip of our tongue. That is known as a dysnomia. There is a memory skill called recognition memory. This is the ability to recognize something as being correct out of a group of possibilities. These individuals excel at multiple choice quizzes. Someone without this skill might do poorly on multiple choice exams. Immediate memory (called parroting) helps us remember things by repeating them over and over. This might be the case when we call to get a phone number. We keep saying it so that we can remember it. Some children use this to learn their spelling words at home at night. There is also something called short term memory which comes into play when longer periods of remembering are required. For example, you might get cut off when you make the phone call. You then need to recall the number. The child will have to use this to remember the spelling words on the test the next day. Long term memory helps us remember things like our phone number, birthdays and addresses. Visual memory allows us to remember things we have seen. The individual with a photographic memory remembers everything he/she has seen. Auditory memory allows us to remember things we have heard. We have a tendency to lump all these kinds of memory together. We may say that we have a good memory of a bad memory. It is never that simple. I was fortunate to have been blessed with a good memory for names which allowed me to know my people better. It also allowed me to do a better job with the three rules of leadership and take care of those who were entrusted to my care. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

West Nile Virus found in a crow An American crow submitted to the Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory by DNREC's Mosquito Control Section on Aug. 6, has tested positive for West Nile virus. The bird was collected in the north Wilmington suburbs. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that affects humans and horses. To date, no other findings of West Nile virus have been reported this year in Delaware. West Nile also has not yet been found by the Mosquito Control Section's statewide network of 20 sentinel chicken monitoring stations, which have been in operation since mid-July.

Another mosquito-borne disease that affects humans and horses, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, has not been detected in Delaware this year. Horse owners are urged to vaccinate their horses against both WNV and EEE. Peak activity in the mid-Atlantic region for both West Nile virus 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. DNREC's Mosquito Control Section and the Delaware Division of Public Health are also vigilant about a third mosquito-transmitted disease, chikungunya. The state experienced its first human case of chikungunya in early July, and although that case was related to foreign travel, local transmission can become more likely as the disease spreads throughout the country. This finding of West Nile virus in Delaware serves as a reminder for people to take common-sense precautions against mosquito bites. These include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the evening. To reduce mosquito-breeding, people should drain or remove items that collect water. To help determine when and where control services are needed, the Mosquito Control Section encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes in Sussex County by calling the Milford office at 302-422-1512.

Nanticoke Memorial Blood Drive Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Blood Drive for the Blood Bank of Delmarva from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. To make an appointment, visit or call 1-888-825-6638.

2014 MS Bike to the Bay The 31st Bike to the Bay to raise money for multiple sclerosis awareness and research will be held on Sept. 20-21. The event also supports programs and services needed by more than 1,550 Delawareans with MS. The ride covers much of Kent and Sussex counties, with a choice of six route options and finishes at the Towers at Delaware Seashore State Park, just south of Dewey Beach. The two-day bike ride, which is either a total of 150 miles or 175 miles, begins on Saturday and ends on Sunday at Del Tech Terry Campus. Register online at or call 302-655-5610.

Memory Café at Ocean View Memory Café, for people with memory loss and their caregivers, will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Monday, Aug. 25, at the Ocean View CHEER Coastal Leisure Center, 30637 Cedar Neck Rd., Ocean View. In conjunction with the CHEER Center's Old Wild West theme, this month's program will include old-fashioned games and cowboy music. Memory Café is open to the public and free of charge; however, an RSVP is kindly requested by July 22 for food orders, if possible, but please attend regardless if you are unable to register by that date. Register or learn more by contacting Yolanda Gallego at or 539-2671.

2014 AIDS Walk Delaware Throughout August, 63 Walgreens stores in Delaware will be selling Red Ribbons in support of the 2014 AIDS Walk Delaware which will be held at Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27. AIDS Walk Delaware is a collaborative fundraiser hosted by AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium and helps support the many services provided to Delawareans living with HIV. When you checkout at Walgreens, just let the cashier know whether you want to donate $1 or $5 to the AIDS Walk.