Still time to apply for health care scholarships


CONWAY — Applications are still being accepted through May 12 for Memorial Hospital's annual scholarship fund, including the Memorial Hospital Scholarship; the Memorial Hospital Volunteers Scholarship Program and the Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice of Carroll County Kathleen Sheehan Memorial Award.

The hospital's scholarship awards are designed to support students in our community pursuing careers in health-related fields. The Memorial Hospital Foundation will once again offer a scholarship in honor of Miranda Leavitt for students with diabetes or who are studying health care, nutrition or exercise physiology.

The scholarship program specifically seeks to assist those students within the hospital's service area (towns served by SAU 9, SAU 13 and MSAD 72) who have already demonstrated the successful completion of part of a higher education degree.

Adult learners returning to school, changing careers or seeking additional education are encouraged to apply. Students must be accepted into an accredited course of study in a health-related field on at least a half-time basis, and demonstrate successful completion of some earlier portion of their program of study. Each scholarship has its own criteria and interested students are encouraged to view the application online for specifics.

The Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Scholarship is funded through the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund, part of the Memorial Hospital Foundation. In honor of the daughter of Brenda and Rich Leavitt after whom Memorial's diabetes center is named, this scholarship supports the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund's mission of providing education, outreach and resources for those in our community with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

The criteria for each scholarships to be awarded is as follows:

• Memorial Hospital Scholarships. The criteria for the Memorial Hospital Scholarship (up to $4,500) is a high school senior going into a health-related field or college student in a health-related field. The student must be from SAU 9, SAD 72 or SAU 13. They can also be a son, daughter or grandson/daughter of an employee. The Memorial Hospital Scholarship also applies to employees who are attending college in a health-related field.

Kathleen Sheehan Memorial Award. Applicants for this scholarship (up to $1,000) must be currently enrolled in an accredited health-related field of study program. Must reside in Carroll County or in Western Maine.

Memorial Hospital Volunteers Scholarship Program. For the Memorial Hospital Volunteers Scholarship Program (up to $5,000) applicants must be an employee or the relative of an employee of Memorial Hospital who is pursuing health related studies on a full time basis.

Memorial Hospital Volunteers Healthcare Studies Scholarship. For this scholarship (up to $1,000), the applicant must be a Kennett High School graduating senior pursuing health-care studies.

Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Scholarship. This scholarship (up to $1,000) is awarded to a student residing in Carroll County or in Western Maine who either has type 1 or type 2 diabetes; or who is currently enrolled full time in college and is pursuing studies related to healthcare, nutrition, exercise physiology or health education.

Candidates must submit an application form online no later than May 12. Only online applications will be considered. Awards are based on scholastic ability, applicable work experience, essay and demonstrated financial needs.

The online application and more information are available online at Memorial Hospital's website,

To learn more about the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund and the Memorial Hospital Foundation, visit them online or call (603) 356-5461 ext. 2264.



  • Category: Health

Advanced Care Planning Workshop at the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library

LOVELL — What if unexpectedly you could no longer speak for yourself? Does your family know and agree on your wishes? Don't leave them guessing. Start the conversation.

The Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library will be hosting an Advanced Care Planning Workshop on Thursday, April 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The workshop will be led by Dr. Marianne Jackson and Joan Lanoie on completing advanced care directives and having conversations about end-of-life values. In this workshop, you will be provided with free Maine Advanced Directives and help to complete them. You will also practice with various tools for opening the conversations about values, preferences and priorities.

Even if you already have an advance directive, there is more to consider. What does it mean not to be a burden? Are there any restrictions you would put on life-sustaining treatments? What is a trial of treatment and how long should it go on? Are there any resolutions you need to make now?

Using Five Wishes and My Gift of Grace Cards, your wishes can be clarified. This workshop will help you identify and put in writing personal, spiritual and emotional issues everyone will face when experiencing serious illness or end of life.

The workshop welcomes people to come as families, partners or just friends to share their ideas together.

Jackson served the New Hampshire North Country as an Ob-Gyn for 25 years before leaving to complete a masters in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There she worked in patient safety and quality until happily returning to the Mount Washington Valley in January of 2015.

Now retired and living in Madison, Jackson is devoting much of her energy toward making conversations about end-of-life decision making a natural and comfortable topic for families. It is her strong belief that we can avoid much suffering, conflict and expense by opening ourselves to the choices ahead.

Her other community ties include being a board member of the local Habitat for Humanity, the Gibson Senior Center and the Mount Washington Valley Citizens for Energy Efficient Communities.

Joan Lanoie is a former childbirth educator and now one of many advanced care planning facilitators in the Mount Washington Valley.

She says, "Planning for end of life is not unlike planning for bringing a new life into the world. There are many unknowns that lie ahead in both situations, the more informed and prepared a family is, the easier and less stressful the transition will be." Lanoie is the president of the board for Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice of Carroll County. She lives in Madison.

  • Category: Health

Charles Platkin: Diet Detective: 7 Important Life-Choices for A Healthy Life


The choices you make in life are not always simple. However, at the very least, consider the following life-choices in relation to your health.

1. Where You Live

You may not feel as if you have a choice, but you do. And it matters. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live in the suburbs and drive everywhere weigh 6.3 pounds more than those who live in compact cities and are able to walk more. Also, living near the seaside or countryside is best for exercise, according to researchers from the University of Plymouth, England.

If you're looking for a new place to live, make sure to consider the following:

Are there suitable and scenic walking and hiking trails (which research shows encourage more walking) in your potential new area? Does your neighborhood have public or private recreation facilities (such as parks with walking, hiking or biking paths)? Are they in good condition? Can you see yourself using them? Are there local fitness centers and/or areas for water sports? Does your local public school have any facilities you can use (a track and/or a pool)? Does your shopping mall have walking programs? Do concerns about safety at the recreation facilities in your community influence your using them? Do you have safety concerns about walking in your neighborhood? Have you thought about how you can overcome these safety issues?

Take a look at the American College of Sports Medicines area fitness rankings here:, and the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program at It ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation.

2. Career / Job

Is it possible to increase your activity level just by changing jobs? Some jobs such as mail carrier, firefighter and construction worker can actually keep you in shape. However, many of us do NOT have active jobs. Here are a few things you can do to ramp up your activity level.

Casual is better: When you wear casual clothing you're more active.
Walk to work: Pick a home close to your job so you can walk or bike every day.
Have walking meetings: Instead of sitting around, have your meetings while you walk.
Stand tall: Hold meetings without chairs so participants are required to stand. Your meetings will probably become more time-efficient, too.
Use your head: Obtain a phone headset and pace during calls.
Old school: Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of e-mailing or phoning.

3. Dog vs. Cat

Yes, cats and dogs provide affection, and that can decrease risk of disease and improve your overall health, but when it comes to increasing physical activity, dogs are the ticket. There's something about getting out and walking with your dog. Maybe it's the fact that you need to walk your dog so it can do its business. Or maybe it's so you can walk with your best friend. In any event, research supports the fact that dog owners walk more.

4. Marriage

When you get married, there is a good chance you're going to gain a few pounds. In fact, according to a study by Cornell University researchers, newlyweds gain more weight than singles or people who are widowed or divorced. Another study in Obesity Research reported an average weight gain of 6 to 8 pounds over a two-year period after getting married.

The idea is to try to find a marriage partner who has the same health values you do. Marrying someone who has unhealthy eating and exercise habits may not be a deal breaker, but its certainly something you should add to the equation. Read:

5. Parenthood / Children

It makes sense that if you have children, especially when they're young, you will have trouble finding time to stay active and eat healthy. According to a study from the Duke University Medical Center appearing in the Journal of Women's Health, women faced on average a 7 percent increased risk of obesity per child born, and men an average of 4 percent. Of course, with poor sleeping patterns, irregular eating, no time to do anything but take care of these young lives, it's not easy to keep yourself healthy.

Best advice: Keep unhealthy foods out of your house (you'll be spending lots of time there), create a home gym, make time for activity and include the baby (e.g., long walks with a stroller), also look at and this

6. What You Do with Your Spare Room, Basement or Garage

Make room for a home gym. For a few hundred dollars, you can get a yoga mat, a TV, one or two pieces of exercise equipment for cardo, and a few dumbbells and have a gym set up. No excuses for not going to the gym when it's right there in your house. See:

7. Friends

You probably don't think you choose your friends. You figure it just happens. But you always have a choice in life, and choosing friends is no different. When you choose a friend not only should you get along and have fun, you also need to determine if that person thwarts your goals or helps you to achieve them. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that you become a cold and calculating person. Just be aware of your peer's influences on your life, try to choose carefully, and certainly add healthier friends to your circle. See:

Charles Platkin, PhD is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of, and the Director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Copyright 2017 by Charles Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www


  • Category: Health

Brian Irwin: Fibromyalgia

One of the more challenging conditions for patients to endure is fibromyalgia, a condition whereby patients experience increased sensitivity to pain and multiple scattered sites on the body, headaches, fatigue and sometimes cognitive impairment.

Up to 6 million Americans have fibromyalgia, making this condition exceedingly common. The primary problem with fibromyalgia, also known as fibro, is that there is no cure for the condition, leaving most patients and clinicians in the position where they have to manage the disease, accepting that treatment will often be "incomplete."

Fibro is poorly understood, but is theorized to stem from central nervous system and peripheral nervous system amplifying pain, perhaps by increased nerve activity in the brain. This pathway is thought to involve multiple "neurotransmitters," hormones which communicate between parts of the nervous system.

Because those hormones are thought to be involved, there is evidence supporting the use of an array of medications which block the uptake of some of those hormones.

Medication selection needs to be tailored to each individual patient's needs. For example, a fibro patient who's experiencing insomnia may benefit from certain older antidepressants that have a side effect of fatigue. Or should a fibro patient suffer from concomitant depression and anxiety, newer antidepressants like duloxetine may be helpful. Or take a patient who has diabetic nerve pain and fibro; they may benefit from something like gabapentin.

Perhaps the most important truth fibro patients need to realize is that non-medication therapies are as effective — if not more effective — than prescription medications. Clinical trials suggest that medications provide relief for about 40 percent of all patients about 40 percent of the time. However, augment that with other lifestyle modifications and the success rate can climb.

Psychological counseling can be very helpful in grappling with the symptoms of fibro, as can biofeedback. One fibro expert was quoted as saying "patients get 20 percent better just knowing what they're dealing with."

Stress management is an integral part of treatment, as is proper sleep hygiene. Perhaps most importantly, exercise has been shown to be nearly as effective as many prescription medications for fibro. Because of the likelihood that fibro is driven by hormones like serotonin and dopamine, most effective medications interplay with that axis. Conversely, opioid pain medications are not part of the treatment regimen and should be avoided unless there is another compelling reason for their use.

Patient education is of critical importance in managing fibro, and I implore patients with fibro, family members with fibro and anyone who may be suffering from fibro symptoms to learn as much as they can about this condition. Certainly talk with your PCP, but in addition check out or to learn more about this common malady. Armed with knowledge, you stand a better chance at maintaining functionality, staving off disability and working toward a happier, more comfortable life.

Dr. Brian Irwin is a family physician at Tamworth Family Medicine, a division of Huggins Hospital.

  • Category: Health