Thursday, October 15, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Public health issues and laws

By Dr. Anthony Policastro History has repeatedly told us that passing laws has a positive effect on the health and welfare of our people. I recently wrote about the success we have had with immunization laws. There are many other examples. In 1906, we passed the Pure Food and Drug Act. At the time many individuals were addicted to opium which came in the form of laudanum. The result of the Pure Food and Drug Act was a marked decrease in addicted individuals. The Act did not eliminate the problem, however, it certainly made it better. In 1920, the 18th Amendment established prohibition of alcohol which proved to be a dismal failure. The Amendment was repealed in 1933, however, during that 13 year period, deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis and alcoholic psychosis decreased markedly. Prohibition did not eliminate deaths from overuse of alcohol, however, it certainly made it better. By 1985, all states had passed child car seat legislation. The result was a 71% decrease in infant deaths due to the use of car seats. Again, it did not eliminate the problem, however, it certainly made it better. States passed seat belt laws in the late twentieth century. As a result of those laws, more people wore their seat belts and deaths from motor vehicle accident decreased significantly. It did not eliminate the problem, however, it certainly made it better. Today, we are in the middle of a national argument about the effectiveness of gun control legislation. The CDC published data in 1996 about statistics related to gun ownership. These statistics showed that homicides were three times more likely when there was a gun in the house. They also showed that suicide was five times more likely when there was a gun in the house. This was just preliminary data. More information was needed so Congress took rapid action and passed a law called the Dickey Amendment, which said that the CDC could not do any further studies on gun safety. As a result, we have no further data in the last 20 years. Whenever we decide to do something, it should be based on accurate information which tends to be lacking when we act on emotions to determine our next move. Perhaps it is time to do some serious research about gun safety so that logical actions can be taken. As long as we do nothing, we can expect the same results we have now. When it comes to public health issues like gun safety, history has told us two important facts. First, laws will not eliminate the problem. Second, laws may not eliminate the problem but they are likely to make it better.

Better Breathers Club Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts a Better Breathers Club on the third Monday of each month from 2-3 p.m. This free support group is open to anyone affected by a chronic lung disease including relatives and caregivers. This month's meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 19 in the Medical Staff Conference Room. Backed by the American Lung Association, the Better Breathers Club offers a venue for participants to learn from featured speakers and educational materials, socialize with others affected by a chronic lung disease, and practice skills that will help them better manage their condition and improve their quality of life. Refreshments will be provided and registration is required. For more information or to register, call 629-6611, ext. 1010.

New Sleep Disorder Center Nanticoke Health Services is expanding its outpatient services with the addition of the Sleep Disorder Center located at 26744 John J. Williams Hwy., Ste. 7, Millsboro. This new center will operate as a sister location to the current Sleep Disorder Center located within Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The Nanticoke Sleep Disorder Centers are dedicated to diagnosing and helping manage common sleep disorders to increase your quality of life by helping you sleep better and feel more rested - which begins with a diagnostic sleep study. For more information about the Nanticoke Sleep Disorder Center, call 536-5215.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a free stroke support group on the third Tuesday of each month at the Seaford Library & Cultural Center from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The two-hour support group meeting consists of guest speakers and breakaway sessions in which caregivers and stroke survivors meet in groups to discuss concerns, providing support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. This support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families, friends, and caregivers. This month's meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6224.

Nanticoke offers flu shots It's time to get your seasonal flu shot. Influenza is a serious disease that affects many people, including the elderly and those with serious, long-term health problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer seasonal flu shots to individuals 16 years of age and older at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Health Campus (Rehabilitation Services Building, 300 Rawlins Dr., Seaford) on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 2-6 p.m.

A donation of $10 per vaccination is appreciated. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, please call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, holds Parkinson's education and support groups on the third Thursday of each month from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 15. This support group, which is free and open to the public, is not only helpful for the individual diagnosed with PD, but also for caregivers, friends and family. Group members welcome guest speakers on a variety of subjects related to PD and provide support to each other through other small group discussions. Tara Trout, LPN, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, caregiver resource coordinator, CHEER. For more information, contact Trout at 629-6611, ext. 3838.

Diabetes Prevention Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Diabetes Prevention Class at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This two-session course is designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Utilizing resources developed by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), this course provides individuals with basic tools to help them make lifestyle changes and reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Cost is $20 per person and a physician referral is required for registration. For more information and to register, call 629-6611, ext. 2288.

Monster Miles for a Cause Delaware Hospice will hold Monster Miles for a Cause at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 17. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. This fun family event will feature vendors, music, food and raffles. A $5 donation to Delaware Hospice registers you for the un-timed walk in memory or honor of a loved one and a Delaware Hospice t-shirt. To register or for more information, visit or contact Janet Luke at 302-746-4535.

'Walk With Me Delmarva' is Oct. 18 There is still time to register for the third annual Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore Walk With Me Delmarva event to be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. at Baywood Greens, Long Neck. Delmarva's Walk With Me is an opportunity for families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to walk together to support services for families living with disabilities in our local community, Linda Forte, event coordinator. Not only will walkers share the company of event ambassadors, who receive services from Easter Seals in Georgetown, they will also be serenaded by Elvis (Bob Lougheed) and Broadway/film actors along the walk route. Frozen Farmer will be on hand with treats donating a portion of each purchase to the walk. There will also be Delaware State Police K-9s, face painting and more to entertain the entire family. Registration is available at or by contacting Linda Forte at 302-253-1100, ext. 1121 or To learn more about how Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit

Spin-a-Thon for DBCC The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) is pleased to announce that Midway Fitness & Racquetball is Spinning For Awareness on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at their fitness center in Rehoboth Beach. In addition to raising awareness for breast cancer during the month of October, the special event will help raise money for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition to support local breast cancer programs and services. Classes are $30/bike half hour or supporters can pledge $30 to be a class sponsor. Donations will be collected at Midway Fitness through Oct. 24. To participate, you must RSVP. For more information, contact Kyle Kilgo at or 302-645-0407.

Boo To Do Hollywood Premiere Join Delaware Hospice for the Boo To Do Hollywood Premiere at Nassau Valley Vineyards, Lewes, on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 7-11 p.m. Boo To Do is a sophisticated, fun evening to benefit Delaware Hospice. This Hollywood Premiere themed event will include gourmet food by Nage, live music by The Funsters, photos and a costume contest. Come as your favorite Hollywood Star or in your Sunday best. Limited $75 tickets are still available. For more information, visit or contact Peggy Dolby at 302-746-4666 or To order tickets online, visit