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Dr. Marie Pavini, a critical care specialist at Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center, won this year's Lever Berkshire Health Technology Challenge.
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Healthy Designs winning Exersides device.
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Examples of Multiscale Systems advanced materials.

Lever Names Winners in Health Tech, Sustainability Challenges

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Multiscale Systems won the sustainability challenge. Pictured are Communications Director Karen Tisdell, left, engineers Prajwal Bharadwaj and Shawn Aalto, CEO Jesse Silverberg and CTO Art Evans on remote. Not in the group is COO Pat Quinn.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Physical and pharmaceutical restraints have been used for years to prevent patients from pulling out critical tubes and monitors but those practices can also cause long-term injury.  
 
"In days gone by, a nurse would heavily sedate you, but we now know that sedation causes more damage for you later, including delirium and dementia, as well as not being able to walk," said Dr. Marie Pavini, a critical care specialist at Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center. "We're trying to keep folks awake these days, but that's pretty hard to do when patients are panicked from being tied down."
 
Even the ubiquitous padded wrist restraint causes problems, she said. "It looks soft and unobtrusive but this little bracelet can make you lose your mind and body."
 
Pavini, found of Healthy Designs, has come up with answer: Exersides. It's a clear tube that covers the but also allows the patient to move, keeps lines in place, and allows nurses to easily acces them through a door. 
 
"It goes on both arms, is comfortable, allows nurses to do everything they need to do," she continued. "You can move every joint and all of your tubes and lines stay safe. It's bigger than the wrist restraint but larger ergonomic devices now replace our legacy devices."
 
The initial cost is higher than current restraints, Pavini said, but its benefits can be seen in a reduction of readmissions and positive outcomes that saves hospitals money in the long term. The prototype device is disposable but she anticipates a reusable device with a disposable soft kit that goes inside the shield for the hand to rest on. 
 
A pilot study was done in Rutland and other trials are being conducted at larger medical centers. Pavini said Healthy Design is self-manufacturing at the moment with capacity to scale up in Rutland and Stowe, Vt., and is in talks with Sinicon Plastics in Dalton. 
 
The invention has already garnered Pavini a National Institutes of Health award and, on Thursday, won her a $25,000 award in Lever's Berkshire Health Technology Challenge.
 
The grant was one of two $25,000 awards given out on Thursday during an afternoon Zoom presentation by four finalists in each category. Multiscale Systems of Worcester, led by Jesse Silverberg, won the Berkshire Sustainability Challenge for its innovations in lightweight materials for the trucking industry.  
 
"Thank you for the teams that were part of this journey I think, well I mean, the root word competing is to strive together, and feel like that's what this has been," said Silverberg. "That we're striving together so I think I'll just keep it brief and say thank you and this is great."
 
Normally, the final pitches would have been made at a public event with presentations at the end and a chance to network. That couldn't happen because of the novel coronavirus, so the finalists did their mentoring with Lever and their presentations to judges over the Zoom platform. 
 
"As you all could see the each presenter in each startup really did an amazing job," said Brent Filson, head of innovation for Lever, a startup and innovation accelerator. "They've progressed so much, and really endured a lot especially through this, you know, these last couple months with the social distancing laws. They really persevered. 
 
"I was so thrilled to work with every single one of these startups. And despite who wins. We're going to be in touch with every single one of you and support you all the way."
 
Runners-up were Revital Therapeutics, led by by Drs. Andrew L'Huillier and Dr. Ling L'Huillier from Shelton, Conn., which is creating off-the-shelf tissue grafts from stem cells to treat a wide range of diseases and injuries; and Vader Nanotechnologies, a biotechnology company using directed evolution to create microorganisms and enzymes that break down plastics and chemicals such as PFOS, and led by biochemist and chemical engineer Trévon Gordon, data scientist Gordon Fleetwood, and software developer Victor Chu.
 
The other contestants were Ingaige Care, a digital therapeutic platform; CareGivingHQ, an app to help caregivers manage care; Aerospec Technologies, which uses drones to provide data to solar companies; and Camberline Technologies, which enables green communities to align their electricity demand to renewable power supplies. 
 
Brittney Cappiello, last year's winner of the Berkshire Health Technology Challenge, made the announcement of this year's winner, Pavini. 
 
The physical therapist also gave an update on her company, My Core Floor, which specializes in women's pelvic issues by customizing excercises and tracking habits. Her membership has grown greatly in recent months as she's worked on expanding her social media presence internationally, and she credited what she learned working with Lever in helping her grow both personally and professionally.
 
"Last year was a huge turning point for my business, and life-changing also for me as a person and as a business owner," she said. "They don't teach about business and entrepreneurship in physical therapy school so Lever really had to start with the basics with me, and the mentorship they provided me was really just huge for me to be able to grow my business."

Tags: business competition,   lever,   

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State Declares 'Green Friday' in Support of Local Xmas Tree Farms

UXBRIDGE, Mass. — The Baker-Polito administration has declared Friday, Nov. 27, as "Green Friday" to encourage people across the commonwealth to visit their local farms and nurseries for Christmas trees, holiday plants, and holiday decorating needs.
 
To celebrate, state Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux participated in a Christmas tree-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge. In an effort to support the commonwealth's Christmas tree industry, the declaration of Green Friday encourages people throughout the state to visit their local Christmas tree farms to purchase their trees, holiday plants, ornamental swags, and wreaths to fulfill their holiday decorating needs.
 
"Our administration believes in the importance of supporting our farms by shopping locally and purchasing holiday decorations from one of the commonwealth's many family-operated Christmas tree farms," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "Now more than ever, it is a great time to spend quality time with your family while partaking in this outdoor activity which allows for proper social distancing."
 
Christmas tree season in Massachusetts provides hundreds of seasonal jobs at approximately 264 Christmas tree farms on approximately 2,801 acres of land from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. The sale of more than 82,524 state-grown Christmas trees contributes approximately $3.5 million to the commonwealth's economy each year. Christmas tree farms, which are often sited on soils that cannot support other crops, stabilize soil, which helps prevent erosion and protect water supplies. When chipped, the trees can be used as a renewable source of energy to be burned as fuel, used as mulch, or composted.
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