Thursday, May 21, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
The pneumonia vaccine doesn't cover all types

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I recently had an episode of pneumonia. One of the more frequent questions I was asked was if I had received "the pneumonia shot." This question suggested that there was an expectation that if you received the pneumococcal vaccine, you would be protected against all forms of pneumonia. As I indicated in my article on this a few months ago, the current pneumococcal vaccines only provide protection against 55 percent of the types of pneumococci that we see. Unfortunately, pneumococcal pneumonia only accounts for about 20% of all pneumonia that we see. Thus, if we cut that 20 percent in half, that means that the current vaccines will protect you against 10% of the possible causes of pneumonia. That is far better than no protection. However, it is nowhere close to the expectation that many people appear to have. The expectation is that if you get the vaccine, you will not get pneumonia at all. That is clearly not true. We know that the types of pneumonia vary by setting. The kinds of pneumonia that people get from the community represent one group of infection. The kinds that people confined to nursing homes and hospitals acquire is a completely different group. The kinds of pneumonia that people with problems with their immune systems get is also a different group. The causes of pneumonia vary as well. Some are caused by bacteria. Pneumococcus is one of those bacteria. However, it is by no means the only one. Most of this group will respond to antibiotics. Others are caused by viruses. There are many viruses that can cause pneumonia. Viruses are not sensitive to antibiotics. Therefore, these infections need to be treated symptomatically until they clear on their own. There is a group of organisms called Mycoplasma. These are bacteria without the typical wall around the cell that bacteria usually have. These infections are difficult to diagnose. They respond to some antibiotics. It is likely that this is the type that I had. Then we see a variety of unusual pneumonias that can occur. There can be chemical pneumonias due to inhaling things. There are pneumonias caused by aspirating stomach contents into the lungs due to vomiting. Tuberculosis usually begins with a form of tuberculous pneumonia. The list goes on and on. Pneumonia has many causes and it is often difficult to diagnose the exact cause. Not all of them respond to antibiotics.

Help for Lyme Disease victims May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. According to The Centers for Disease Control, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia consistently rank in the top 10 states of the largest number of reported Lyme Disease cases in the country. Treatment can be long and people suffering from Lyme Disease often feel they have no hope and no place to turn. Lyme Wellness DIY has opened on Delmarva with the goal of helping Lyme sufferers beat the disease and its multiple co-infections. Lyme Wellness DIY is headed by Certified Wellness Coach Candace Ray, who is also trained in Reike and level I and II ART (Autonomic Response Testing). ART is a system of evaluation and treatment developed by Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, a world leader in areas of environmental toxicity, chronic infection and a fellow Lyme survivor. Ray knows first-hand how Lyme Disease can affect your life. Over the past 12 years, she has battled Lyme and its co-infections beating the disease only for it to return. With the help of many devoted doctors, Ray has developed a plan that uses the functional healing approach which allows one's own body to do what it was designed to do and function in a healthy state.

Focusing on non-prescription alternatives, Ray is currently disease free. For more information or to have Candace Ray speak at your organization, call Ray at 661-204-1372, email or visit

Nanticoke to host Blood Drive Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host two Blood Drive dates for the Blood Bank of Delmarva as part of the 2015 Summer Blood Challenge. The first drive will be Friday, May 22 and the second will be Friday, July 24. The drives will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m in the Medical Staff Conference Room. To make an appointment, visit or call 1-888-8-Blood-8.

Grief support group Delaware Hospice will hold a six-week support group, Surviving the Loss of a Child, from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 26 - June 30, at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Milton. The group, which is open to parents or grandparents, is facilitated by Midge DiNatale, GC-C, bereavement counselor, who has lost a child of her own and is able to provide personal understanding. Each session will provide an opportunity for attendees to share their loss and learn ways to cope with grief. For more information, contact DiNatale at 302-746-4740 or

Peninsula Home Care salutes registered nurses Registered nurses are the fastest growing occupation in healthcare across the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that registered nurse employment will grow at a rate of 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 thanks to higher healthcare demands from aging baby boomers. "We have seen this scenario play out over the last three years as demand for nursing services has doubled," said Robyn Coughenour, director of clinical operations and acting Delaware Branch director. "Baby boomers are younger and more fit than the generation ahead of them, so they have more issues with activity-based injuries like bicycle falls, as well as 'repair' surgeries such as knee replacements. Our own registered nursing staff has (doubled) and we continue to seek additional RN team members." Every year, National Nurses Week focuses attention on the diverse ways America's 3.1 million registered nurses work to save lives and improve the health of millions of individuals. Peninsula Home Care is recognizing three staff RN's as "Outstanding Nurse of the Year." Each winner was nominated internally by other staff members and all nominations were voted on by a team of PHC leaders and third party volunteers. The following Peninsula Home Care RN's were selected as "Outstanding Nurse of the Year" - Gena Hammond, Seaford branch, Stephanie Carey, Ocean Pines branch and Christine Yingling, Salisbury branch. Gena Hammond of the Seaford branch has been a registered nurse for 18 years, five of which have been spent with Peninsula Home Care (PHC). At PHC, she works as a RN case manager in the Laurel and Delmar areas. Gena has also been with Peninsula Regional Medical Center for 15 years. Previously, she worked with St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington for three years and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital for four years. She earned her associate's degree in nursing science at Del Tech and is going back for a nurse practitioner's degree this fall.