Maine Medical Center Achieves Gold Star Standard of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Policy
MMC was awarded the Gold Star Standard of Excellence from the Maine Tobacco-Free Hospital Network at a ceremony on March 27. The award acknowledges the hospital for working toward a healthier environment for patients, visitors, and staff by implementing a tobacco-free policy and other actions that support the health of patients by keeping the hospital free of smoke and prohibiting tobacco use.
MMC’s Tobacco-Free Policy goes into effect on May 31, but the policy is only one of many standards the hospital had to reach to achieve the gold star. Other benchmarks include:
- Renewing and enforcing our Fragrance-Free Policy to reduce patient and employee exposure to thirdhand smoke
- Prohibiting publications that advertise or promote tobacco products
- Making information on tobacco dependence and treatment readily available to patients, visitors, and staff, and screening patients for tobacco use
- Covering tobacco treatment services in employee health plans
- Divesting of all tobacco company stock
- Making information about 100 percent smoke-free lodging available to visitors
A Tobacco-Free Committee, led by Wendy Osgood, Vice President, Adult Medicine Services, and Barb Perry, Program Manager at the Center for Tobacco Independence, has been working for almost a year to implement the plan to achieve the gold star.
“With about 50 dedicated people from various departments, and strong support from hospital leadership, we were able to achieve everything we set out to,” says Wendy. “This is an important step in the hospital’s mission toward making Maine the healthiest state in the nation.”
In addition to creating a tobacco- and smoke-free environment, the committee has strengthened the hospital’s efforts to support tobacco users in their attempts to quit or just get through the workday without using tobacco. Educating through various communications vehicles, plus offering nicotine replacement therapy and counseling to employees has increased the demand for tobacco cessation treatment.
“We’re seeing more and more employees who see the support is there, and are choosing to use the resources to make healthy changes in their lives,” says Barb. “Stopping tobacco use may be one of the hardest things a person does, and we want to support people when they are ready by offering compassion and understanding.”
As the tobacco-free policy go-live date draws near, the committee is continuing to educate staff about policy details, treatment options, and care for patients who use tobacco. In addition, employees are being given talking points so they can feel comfortable speaking with patients or visitors who are smoking on hospital grounds.
Barb says, “It’s important to remember, this is about the smoke, not the smoker.”