Check it out: Area health briefs

Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Compiled by Debra Scherban. Please send items to

CDH practices add
mental health care

A psychiatrist and a licensed social worker have joined the Atwood Health Center, the Cooley Dickinson multi-specialty provider practices at 22 Atwood Drive, Northampton.

Psychiatrist Peter J. Halperin, MD is the developer and medical director of the new Integrated Behavioral Health program based at Atwood and Marlene Meinelt, LICSW, has begun work there as well.

“The first component of the new program is integrating extended psychiatric consultation with medication management into the Cooley Dickinson Medical Group primary care system,” said Halperin.

Patients in need of mental health treatment can get referrals to him from their primary care providers. Halperin will then see the patients for up to three months before sending the patients back to their primary care providers for ongoing monitoring.

Psychotherapists also will be integrated into the Cooley Dickinson primary care practices, providing short-term therapy to those needing help managing stress that is affecting their emotional well being and physical health.

The integrated system is expected to help patients obtain mental health appointments quickly and to enhance communication among care providers.

Holiday church service
for those feeling sad

Second Congregational Church of Greenfield, 16 Court Square Greenfield, is hosting a community-wide Christmas service Dec. 22 for people in grief and for those who find the holidays hard.

It begins at 7 p.m. and all are welcome.

“This has been a difficult year for so many people,” said Rev. Corey Sanderson in a prepared statement. “We wanted to host a Christmas worship service for the larger community that spoke to the grief and loss we have all experienced, but that still points to the Christmas promise of hope and new life.”

All too often, he said, people feel they have to put on a happy face for the holidays. This social pressure tends to devalue the real pain that people feel, he said.

Some have had a loved one die this past year, some are deeply troubled by the endless cycle of mass shootings, others are struggling with addiction, mourn the destruction of the environment, or feel the sting of hate speech against Muslims, he said. While the event will be a Christian worship service, it is open to those of all faiths, Sanderson said.

“We will hear the Christmas story, sing some Christmas carols, have the opportunity to light candles, receive a prayer for healing, and also share in Communion,” he said.

Dementia group meets

A support group for caregivers of seniors with dementia meets at the Amherst Senior Center Jan. 14, Jan. 28 and Feb. 11. Each session runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The group is led by Helen MacMellon, LCSW; DeNault, RN, and Toheeb Bakare, MSW intern.

To register or for more information contact Helen at 259-3062 or

UMass team launches
medication project

For patients with HIV and other chronic conditions, taking medicines daily, exactly as prescribed is crucial for quality of life and long-term health.

To support this, a team of University of Massachusetts Amherst computer scientists and engineers recently received a four-year, $1.71 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a cost-effective, easy-to-use device similar to a fitness tracker for maintaining a medication regime.

UMass Amherst team leaders Jenna Marquard of mechanical and industrial engineering, and Deepak Ganesan of computer science will work with Dr. Barry Saver and others at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and the University of Washington, to design and evaluate a wrist-worn device that detects when a person comes in contact with the pill container and is swallowing a pill.

Marquard notes that the project is a design as well as a technology challenge.

“The solution needs to fits seamlessly into patients’ patterns of daily living,” she said in a prepared statement.

The team will test the UMass Amherst device in two field studies over the course of the grant.

Marquard and Ganesan say that the project closely aligns with the goals of the UMass Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS) on the Amherst campus, which focuses on translating life science research into products that improve health.


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