Endocrinologist Panta Joins Baystate Wing Medical Staff

PALMER — Baystate Wing Hospital announced the addition of Dr. Raju Panta, endocrinologist, to its medical staff. 

Panta earned his medical degree from the College of Medical Sciences in Bharatpur, Nepal; completed his residency in internal medicine at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and completed his fellowship at State University of New York in Buffalo. 

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Panta to our team to provide endocrinology care in our region,” said Dr. David Maguire, chief medical officer for Baystate Health’s Eastern Region, which includes Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital. “An endocrinologist is a specially trained physician that diagnoses and treats disorders such as diabetes, thyroid diseases, osteoporosis, and other hormonal disorders. Dr. Panta brings this much-needed specialty to our community.” 

Prior to joining Baystate Health’s endocrinology and diabetes team, Panta was a hospitalist at Lakes Region General Hospital in New Hampshire, and also earned master’s degrees in medical education and leadership from University of New England, Maine, where he also served as the clinical assistant professor of Internal Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine, a fellow of American College of Physicians, and a member of the Endocrine Society and the American Assoc. of Clinical Endocrinologists. He is fluent in English, Hindi, and Nepali.

Panta is currently accepting new patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Baystate Endocrinology and Diabetes at Baystate Wing Hospital at (413) 370-7881.


Franklin, Bishop Join ServiceNet’s Senior Team

NORTHAMPTON — ServiceNet President and CEO Susan Stubbs announced the promotion of two leaders at the agency. Karen Franklin is the new vice president of Outpatient Services, and Jeanne Bishop is vice president of Mental Health Recovery Services. Both Franklin and Bishop bring extensive experience to their new roles.

Franklin earned her master’s degree in social work at Columbia University and began her career in New York City at Bellevue Hospital and the Puerto Rican Family Institute. She later moved to the Pioneer Valley and served for four years as director of Adult Services for Franklin/Hampshire Community Mental Health Center, the organization which later merged with Valley Programs to become ServiceNet.

Franklin was a consultant for eight years and then worked for 13 years in a variety of clinical and supervisory roles with healthcare and mental-health organizations throughout the Valley before returning to ServiceNet in 2014 as director of Clinical Services. She is excited to step into her new role on the senior leadership team, and noted that she is especially “proud of the caliber of the clinicians at ServiceNet, the excellence of the work they do, and their deep commitment to the clients we serve.”

Bishop earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Antioch/New England Graduate School. She worked for five years with Family Planning of Western Massachusetts before joining the crisis team at what was then Franklin/Hampshire Community Mental Health Center. She was promoted from crisis clinician to director of Emergency Services, and continued in that position after the organization became ServiceNet, serving for a total of 25 years in acute services.

In 2009, Bishop joined ServiceNet’s Mental Health Recovery Services (MHRS) team, first as contract director for Hampshire County, and later as director of MHRS. Now, as vice president of Mental Health Recovery Services, she is pleased to join the agency’s senior leadership while continuing to work with the skilled managers and staff of MHRS and maintain a connection with program participants who are in their process of recovery.


Pulmonologist Green Joins Baystate Wing Medical Staff

PALMER — Baystate Wing Hospital announced the addition of Dr. O’Neil Green, pulmonologist and intensivist, to its medical staff. Green is board-certified in pulmonary medicine, critical-care medicine, and internal medicine.

Green earned his medical degree from the University of West Indies (Mona), Kingston, Jamaica. He completed residency in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Queens Medical Center and conducted research at the National Institutes of Health. He completed his fellowship in critical care at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and his fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine at Norwalk Hospital/Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut. 

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Green to our team as we build our pulmonary services,” said Dr. David Maguire, chief medical officer for Baystate Health’s Eastern Region, which includes Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital. “We believe that providing access to community-based pulmonology medicine is critical for the health of our patients.” 

Prior to joining Baystate Health’s Pulmonary & Critical Care team, Green was an attending physician in pulmonary and critical care at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Conn. and was a clinical instructor at Yale School of Medicine. He is a member of the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the Medical Assoc. of Jamaica, as well as a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. 

Green is currently accepting new patients. For more information or an appointment, call Pulmonary Services at Baystate Wing Hospital at (413) 370-7888.


UMass Amherst Engineer Wins $400,000 NSF Grant

AMHERST — Yubing Sun, a professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMass Amherst, is using a three-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the biomechanical forces and chemical factors that cause birth defects of the brain and spinal cord in the first few weeks of fetal development. Known as neural tube defects, these conditions occur when critical parts of the central nervous system don’t develop properly.

Sun said researchers have some knowledge about neural-tube defects and know that folic acid greatly reduces the risk for the defects, but they don’t know why.

During the first few weeks of development in pregnancy, a ribbon of tissue turns into a tube that becomes the spinal cord and brain. When the tube fails to close or is incomplete, birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly occur. Sun said he wants to gain a greater understanding of the mechanical and chemical factors that guide the development of the neural tubes, and will use human cells to study this.

Because stem cells are the basic building blocks of the human body, they rely on mechanical and chemical signals to develop into specific types of tissue like bone and nerves, Sun said. His research will seek to understand how the stem cells that create the neural tubes get those signals and instructions on how to develop.

“We want to provide an engineered environment similar to the organization in our body,” he noted, adding that the stem cells likely respond to both mechanical forces, such as pressure from tissue boundaries, and chemical signals that vary according to where it goes in the cell and in what concentration. “We want to know the details of that mechanism.”

The researchers will test the idea that micro-patterned cell-culture environments can cause human cells to mimic the spatial patterning of cells as they develop in the body by responding to confinement of tissues and changing chemical gradient.

“This is an important first step to tease out the mechanics of neural development,” Sun said. “This also has great promise for regenerative medicine.”

Sun is the head of the College of Engineering’s Laboratory for Multiscale Bioengineering and Mechanobiology.


Canto Joins Surgical Team at Baystate Wing Hospital

PALMER — Dr. Thomas Canto, a board-certified general surgeon, has joined the medical staff at Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer. 

“Improving access to local surgical care remains one of our top priorities,” said Dr. David Maguire, chief medical officer for the Eastern Region, which includes Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital. “Dr. Canto is an accomplished and experienced general surgeon, and we are so pleased that he has chosen to return to Baystate Wing Hospital. He is an essential addition to our surgical team, medical staff, and our hospital community. His return to our team is a testament to our continued commitment to providing expert care close to home.”

Canto comes to Baystate Wing Hospital with more than 25 years of experience in general surgery. Prior to the past two years at Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, he spent 14 years providing surgical care at Baystate Wing Hospital. He earned his doctor of medicine degree from Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University; his internship at Boston University; and his surgery residency at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. He was also chief surgical resident at Berkshire Medical Center and was affiliated with practices in Virginia and the Carolinas before moving to Massachusetts. In addition to being an accomplished general surgeon, Canto is a wound-care specialist.

Canto is currently welcoming new patients. He joins Dr. Kelly Galster, Dr. Zeling Chau, and Michael Bell, physician assistant, in providing care in the Baystate Health Eastern Region. For more information or to make an appointment, call Baystate General Surgery in Palmer at (413) 370-5015, or in Ware at (413) 967-2800.


Raftopoulos Presents Research at Conference

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center’s Dr. Yannis Raftopoulos, a board-certified bariatric surgeon and weight-management specialist, presented new research on restricting opioid medications after bariatric surgery at the American College of Surgeons Annual Congress in San Diego in October. This year’s conference theme was “Do What’s Right for the Patient.”

Research shows that perioperative use of opioids is associated with an increased incidence of complications in obese patients, and bariatric surgery patients are over-represented in substance-use treatment facilities.

Raftopoulos study showed the use of opioids/narcotics after a patient has left the recovery room and until their discharge from the hospital dropped 40{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}. Previously, 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of patients were provided with opioids during this transition. This decrease was accomplished without negatively affecting the length of hospital stay, 30-day ER visits, or readmissions. Only 1.9{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of bariatric patients at Holyoke Medical Center required a narcotic prescription after hospital discharge, down from 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} previously.

“There has been no data presented in the past in the U.S. to address this issue, not only in bariatric surgery, but also in any other surgical field,” Raftopoulos said. “This impressive reduction in postoperative opioid use was accomplished while our Comprehensive and Metabolic Bariatric Center of Excellence boasted one of the lowest lengths of inpatient stays worldwide of only 1.2 days following laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.”

Since opening the HMC Weight Management Program in February 2016, Raftopoulos has presented research findings at a variety of conferences across the U.S. and internationally.

“Holyoke Medical Center is proud to support Dr. Raftopoulos and the research he has done to reduce the impact on the opioid epidemic, while also providing superior care to our patients in the Pioneer Valley and surrounding area,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. 

Raftopoulos and the HMC Weight Management Program will be among 10 sites nationally, and the only site in the Northeast, participating in an FDA trial assessing the efficacy of the novel and revolutionary intragastric balloon. The device is swallowed as a pill and requires no endoscopy, sedation, or anesthesia to be placed or removed. This trial is scheduled to begin enrollment in early 2018.