Page 60 - Healthcare News Nov/Dec 2021
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Youth Mental Health Coalition Launches in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — The Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts (PHI- WM) is launching the Springfield Youth Mental Health Coalition, a collaboration of municipalities, public health, schools, social-service providers, and youth work- ing to lift up issues and resources for mental health among Springfield families and youth.
Through funding from the Massa- chusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling and the Davis Foundation, the coalition will develop a communications campaign to normalize healthy conversations about mental health, work with schools on tools to support youth mental health, provide trainings to teachers and other providers, develop a peer-to-peer mentor framework, and provide educational webinars such as the partnerships with Estoy Aquí and the Springfield Public Forum.
“For years, we have watched youth health survey data locally, statewide, and nationally highlight the growing anxiety, depression, and suicidality rates of our young people,” said Jessica Collins, PHI- WM’s executive director. “We recognize the strengths and courage of young people to do something about this. Together — across age and sector — the Youth Mental Health Coalition is working to lift up incredible insights and ideas of youth and families as well as best-practice strategies to promote youth engagement and protect youth from community environments that exacerbate poor mental health.”
This coalition was formed after an extensive process led by PHIWM to gather information from community voices, local mental-health service-provider experts, and data from existing assessments of community health needs. The plan-
ning process narrowed from a list of 15
potential issues to one: youth mental and behavioral health. The recently released report, “Mental Health Inequities Among Springfield Eighth Grade Students,” shows the need for expanding and destigmatiz- ing youth mental-health services.
“To our Springfield community, we invite your participation on the coalition — to offer behavioral-health trainings, education, and resources to your staff and families or attend the educational webi- nars to learn how to better support our lo- cal youth,” said Tiffany Rufino, PHIWM’s Youth Mental Health Coalition manager.
A key component of the coalition is the Beat the Odds youth group convened by Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services. Ariana Williams, director of Public Health for that organization, noted that “Beat
the Odds is a safe space for our youth to express their thoughts or feelings without feeling judged or dismissed. Together, we
are empowered, and we aim to support one another and youth all over the city. With youth mental health arising as an emerging public-health issue across the nation, our hope is that we can help erase the stigma around mental health for youth and families and promote the importance of a prioritizing a healthy mental state.”
In addition, an overarching advisory committee of residents, agencies, schools, and mental-health providers has been convened, with representatives from the African Diaspora Mental Health As-
soc., Baystate Health, Behavioral Health Network, Davis Foundation, Estoy Aquí, Gándara Center, Martin Luther King
Jr. Family Services, New North Citizens Council, Out Now, PHIWM, the Spring- field Office of Health and Racial Equity, Springfield Public Schools, Square One, and Tamera Crenshaw – Tools for Success Counseling, LLC.
 WNE Offers New MS Program in Pharmacogenomics
SPRINGFIELD — The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Western New England University (WNE) an- nounced a new master of science degree in pharmacoge- nomics degree starting in the fall of 2022.
Pharmacogenomics is a fast-growing field that helps medical practitioners prescribe personalized treatment plans to patients based on how they may respond to medi- cations due to their DNA sequence. Pharmacogenomics supports personalized or precision medicine, which ex-
plores a patient’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle as a way to craft a treatment plan that will best suit the patient. The goal of this modern approach to medication therapy is to limit adverse effects while optimizing response and beneficial outcomes.
The master of science in pharmacogenomics degree from WNE — the only degree of this type in New England — prepares graduates for careers that will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare and make the most of emerging
opportunities from basic laboratory research to clinical implementation of personalized healthcare.
“Students will work directly with pharmaceutical scientists in our state-of-the-art laboratories and clinical practitioners at healthcare facilities that utilize genetic testing, which will allow for students to develop skills and expertise necessary for a variety of careers in research or at medical institutions,” said Dr. Shannon Kinney, asssociate professor of Pharmacol- ogy and coordinator of the new program.
 Cooley Dickinson Celebrates Launch of Donor Milk Program
NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Childbirth Center announced the launch of a new donor milk program in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, a nonprofit community milk bank operating under the guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Assoc. of North America.
“I am thrilled that we have initiated a donor milk pro- gram here at CDH,” said Margaret-Ann Azzaro, Cooley Dickinson’s director of Medical Surgical & Childbirth Services. “This demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting the families in our community in reaching their breastfeeding goals. The donor milk program aligns perfectly with our Baby Friendly Designation and our duty to support the health of infants.”
The milk bank collects milk from birth parents who have more milk than their babies need; screens, pasteur- izes, and tests the milk; then dispenses it to babies whose birth parents do not have enough milk for them.
Milk-donor screening, modeled after blood-donor screening, includes health history, physician approval, and a blood test. Milk from birth parents who pass the screen- ing is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or fami- lies. Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to more than 90 hospitals and to families throughout the Northeastern
U.S. since 2011.
In Massachusetts, in addition to serving hospitals,
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast also provides milk to
an outpatient donor milk dispensary at Northampton Area Pediatrics and operates five depots (including the Northampton location), where screened donors can drop off milk for shipment to the milk bank. With the launch of the donor milk program at Cooley Dickinson’s Childbirth Center, area families now have a full range of donor milk services available in their community.
Donor milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It
is especially protective against a life-threatening condi- tion called necrotizing enterocolitis, which affects one in 10 of the smallest preterm infants. A human milk diet is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.
While donor milk is now widely used for preterm babies in hospitals with neonatal intensive care units, Cooley Dickinson is on the leading edge of hospitals offering it in mother-baby and special care units. In the case of full-
term and near-term births, pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) can be offered as a medical supplement, or ‘bridge milk,’ until the birth parent’s own milk supply increases, and for medical issues such as hypoglycemia, hyperbilirubi- nemia, excessive weight loss, and latch problems.
The importance of breastfeeding for the health of the birth parent and baby is well-established, with all major medical and public-health organizations endorsing breastfeeding. Use of donor milk supports breastfeeding in the long run. When a baby requires supplementation in the early days after birth, research shows that birth parents tend to view donor milk as a temporary bridge and formula as a long-term solution. Thus, having donor milk available as a supplement can be an essential compo- nent in preserving and protecting breastfeeding for birth parents and babies.
“Our goal is always to have mothers nurse their own babies, but sometimes it is necessary to provide a supple- ment while the milk comes in,” said Dr. Robert Insoft, medical director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
“I am so proud to work with Amy Walker, CNM, and Lisa Fitzgerald, IBCLC, without whose efforts the Human Milk Bank at Cooley Dickinson would not be happening,” said Dr. Helena McCracken, chief of Pediatrics at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. “I’m also thankful for Cooley Dickin- son’s commitment to equity, which makes it possible for all families regardless of their ability to pay to benefit from this program.”
Families and healthcare providers seeking more infor- mation on receiving or donating milk can check the milk bank’s website at

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