Regional Notebook: March 5, 2024

Karin Johnson

Karin Johnson

Dakin Humane Society will hold its annual Will Run for Cookies 5K Run/2K Walk, pictured in 2023, to benefit the organization’s services and programs on Saturday, May 18, at Westfield’s Stanley Park.

Dakin Humane Society will hold its annual Will Run for Cookies 5K Run/2K Walk, pictured in 2023, to benefit the organization’s services and programs on Saturday, May 18, at Westfield’s Stanley Park. CONTRIBUTED

Published: 03-04-2024 4:21 PM

Jewish Federation of Western Mass. offers scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts’ Jewish Endowment Foundation is inviting undergraduate and college-bound students to apply for its annual Common Fund and Springfield Council of Jewish Women scholarships through April 18.

Qualified students regardless of race, religion and gender are encouraged to apply. Scholarships are awarded based on a combination of academic, financial need and community involvement.

“The value of education is strongly embedded in our Jewish culture, which is why we are proud to award Common Fund and Springfield Council of Jewish Women scholarships to support students on their educational journey,” Nora Gorenstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The Jewish Endowment Foundation Common Fund provides college scholarships to qualified undergraduate students who are residents of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Since 2015, the Common Fund has awarded more than $260,000 in scholarships to more than 240 college-bound students. Approximately 30 students are selected each year.

The Springfield Council of Jewish Women scholarships are available to all qualified undergraduates residing in Chicopee, Springfield, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Hampden, Agawam or West Springfield. The Springfield Council of Jewish Women established its first scholarship fund in 1943. Since then, the fund has grown substantially and, in 1992, the council transferred its funds to the Jewish Endowment Foundation. Since 1992, the scholarship fund has awarded more than $2.5 million to financially assist thousands of local students in their pursuit of higher education.

Once chosen, undergraduate students are eligible to renew their awards for their full four years of college. To apply, visit jewishwesternmass.org/grants-scholarships.

Baystate seeks proposals for Better Together Grants Program

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center in partnership with its Community Benefits Advisory Council is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for the Better Together Grants Program.

Baystate is calling for proposals that advance youth well-being through strategic interventions that seek to decrease adverse youth mental health outcomes. The hospital recognizes that addressing youth mental health is not limited to clinical settings or traditional medical treatment, so this grant opportunity encourages proposals that target social determinants of health and other community/cultural factors that improve people’s overall well-being.

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Applicants can submit one proposal with the proposed project aligning with at least one of the hospital’s priority focus area strategies:

■Destigmatizing and Normalizing: Projects have a clear focus on eliminating mental health stigma and advancing youth well-being by creating environments, programs and/or supports that allow youth to feel empowered to discuss their mental well-being.

■Social Connection: Projects have a clear focus on eliminating social isolation by facilitating opportunities for social connection among youth and their families, peers, schools, culture, activities and/or place of living.

■Social Emotional Learning Skills Building: Projects use the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) framework and curriculum design as a means to equip youth with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to support one’s emotional and behavioral health, overall well-being, and productivity in school and society.

■Social Media: Projects leverage social media strategy as a tool to foster a healthy view of youth mental well-being, addressing both benefits and harms of technology.

Applicants are asked to review the RFP grant guidelines prior to submitting their initial application, which is due Wednesday, March 27, at 11:59 p.m. Finalists will be notified and invited to the interview stage by Monday, April 8.

For more information, contact Brittney Rosario at 413-794-1801 or email brittney.rosario@baystatehealth.org.

Patients sought to participate in sleep apnea clinical trial

SPRINGFIELD — Researchers at Baystate Medical Center are looking for patients to participate in a clinical trial to see if a pill to treat sleep apnea is safe and effective.

“While it is likely that medications will not fully treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there is hope that it can lead to at least a partial improvement of symptoms and less risks of untreated sleep apnea,” Dr. Karin Johnson, director of the Baystate Health Sleep Program, said in a statement. “So far, the most promising medications have been ones which reduce the relaxation of the tongue, helping to keep the airway more open during sleep, but they work best when combined with other medications that help stabilize sleep.”

One possible drug is getting closer to becoming a reality. Late in 2022, Apnimed announced the results of its Phase 2 randomized trial studying a new drug combination, AD109, demonstrating initial success in decreasing the number of blockages in the airflow in patients with OSA and improving their fatigue scores. The drug combines atomoxetine, a medication that has been used for many years for ADHD, with aroxybutynin, a new formulation of oxybutynin, a medication that is used to treat overactive bladder.

Apnimed recently opened its Phase 3 trial, LunAIRo, which is enrolling patients into a one-year study to confirm the safety and efficacy of this medication. LunAIRo is a placebo-controlled trial, meaning active medication in some patients will be compared to a sugar pill.

“Baystate Medical Center is excited to be part of this study that will hopefully bring a new treatment option to our patients with OSA,” Johnson said. “By taking part in this research, patients have the opportunity to be the first to try this potential treatment and help advance science. No insurance coverage is needed and all study costs are covered.”

Obstructive sleep apnea is a highly prevalent disorder and millions of Americans are still underdiagnosed. There is a wide range of ways that patients can present with OSA. Patients with OSA often have nighttime symptoms that include loud snoring, pauses in their breathing, gasping or choking, difficulty maintaining sleep, urinating multiple times per night, and waking unrefreshed or with headaches. Daytime symptoms can include sleepiness or fatigue, difficulty concentrating or remembering, poorer mood or irritability. Some patients aren’t bothered by symptoms, but their OSA can increase blood pressure, make it harder to control their diabetes, and increase their risk of heart attacks, strokes and dementia.

The primary treatment that works well for many patients is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. It uses pressurized air to blow the tongue and upper airway open to prevent collapse that leads to snoring and blockages in the airflow in obstructive sleep apnea. Baystate is looking for adults with OSA who have not used CPAP for at least three months or no longer have a CPAP machine at home and have sleepiness or fatigue related to their OSA. The trial will involve several sleep studies and assessments throughout the year.

Patients who are interested in learning more about participating in the study can visit BaystateHealth.org/SleepStudy.

Dakin holding third annual Will Run for Cookies 5K Run/2K Walk

WESTFIELD — Dakin Humane Society will hold its third annual Will Run for Cookies 5K Run/2K Walk to benefit the organization’s services and programs on Saturday, May 18, at Westfield’s Stanley Park. Registrants will be invited to bring their dogs (on non-retractable leashes) to take part in the event.

Event day registration/check-in will take place at 9 a.m. and the race begins at 10:30 a.m. Online registrations are being accepted through May 16 at racewire.com/register.php?id=13823. The event will be held rain or shine.

Sign-up fees during the Early Bird Registration period, which will end April 1, are $20 for children ages 12 and under, and $30 for adults. The adult registration fee will increase to $35 between April 2 and May 16, and to $40 on the day of the event. The fee for children ages 12 and under will remain the same.

“This is our third year celebrating the person/pet bond at our Cookie Run event,” Dakin’s Director of Development and Marketing Stacey Price said in a statement. “We’re very happy to return to Westfield’s Stanley Park, which is especially beautiful in May, and provides an ideal setting for everyone to enjoy a day outdoors with their friends and dogs. Dakin’s services exist to strengthen the bond between people and pets, and everyone who participates in our event is lending a hand to animals in need, and the people who love them, right here in the Pioneer Valley.”

Participants are encouraged to raise money for Dakin to help give animals the food, shelter and medical treatment they need. As a fundraising incentive, every individual who raises $100 will receive a blue beanie hat. The beanie hat was chosen by Dakin to honor a kitten named Beanie who had been rescued in frigid weather in 2020.