Health

NMMC earns honor for tobacco prevention work

FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center has been recognized at the platinum level of excellence for its efforts in tobacco independence.

Jennifer J. Albert, RN, director of quality and infection prevention, was informed of the honor by Michelle Wells, program manager for the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence.

The Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program provides an opportunity to recognize Maine’s hospitals for the work they have done to create tobacco‐free environments and support healthy lifestyles.

All Maine hospitals are invited to apply annually to determine ongoing support for the reduction of tobacco use across their service areas. Award levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy, annual screening for tobacco use, referral to tobacco treatment and supporting employee education related to tobacco treatment. 

“NMMC has participated in the initiative for six years. The implementation of tobacco reduction strategies, for both our patients and our employees, continues to be an important part of our Community Health Action Plan and it is part of our strong commitment to the health and wellness of the people we serve,” Albert said.

NMMC is among 33 hospitals from across the state and five health care organizations being celebrated for their leadership through the Gold Star program. All four hospitals in Aroostook County were successful in achieving the 2020 Platinum level of excellence. 

The Maine Tobacco-Free Hospital Network, an initiative of the Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine, recognizes hospitals that have worked diligently to prohibit smoke and tobacco use on campus and address client tobacco use.

Kristen McAuley, tobacco prevention services director for the Standards of Excellence said, “We applaud the ongoing efforts of Maine hospitals and healthcare organizations to address tobacco use, secondhand smoke exposure and nicotine dependence by meeting the Gold Star Standards of Excellence.”

Pertinent to the current public health crisis, McAuley said, “Addressing tobacco use has continued importance during the current pandemic, as the U.S. [Centers for Disease Control] states that being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” 

For more information about the Tobacco-Free Hospital initiative and Gold Star Standards of Excellence recognition program, please visit BreatheEasyMaine.org/GSSE. 

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