Waterville – Connie Coggins, HealthReach President & CEO, is pleased to announce that HealthReach has received the highest award level for tobacco-free achievements. The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence (CTI) Breathe Easy Maine initiative recognized forty-four healthcare, hospital, higher education, and behavioral health organizations – as well as four individual Gold Star Champions – for efforts to address tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.

HealthReach Community Health Centers was recognized for meeting Platinum Status through the 2024 Gold Star Standards of Excellence program, for efforts to both prohibit smoking and tobacco use on campus, and to address patient tobacco use. This was the first year that HealthReach has participated in the initiative, and we look forward to a continued partnership with CTI to address tobacco use and exposure.

All Maine behavioral health organizations, hospitals, higher education organizations, and healthcare organizations were encouraged to apply for recognition. Qualifying organizations are recognized at Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, based on program criteria. Best practice criteria include smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies, annual screening practices for tobacco use, referral processes for tobacco use treatment, and the provision of employee education in tobacco treatment topics.

“We applaud the ongoing efforts of Maine hospitals, healthcare, higher education, and behavioral health organizations to address tobacco use, secondhand smoke exposure, and nicotine dependence, by meeting the Gold Star Standards of Excellence,” says Sarah Rines, Senior Program Manager for CTI. She continued, “Advice and assistance from healthcare providers are powerful tools to help individuals quit tobacco products. These awardees are taking key steps to support their patients, clients, and communities.”

For more information about Breathe Easy Maine and the Gold Star Standards of Excellence, please visit BreatheEasyMaine.org/GSSE.

MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Maine initiative is dedicated to providing Maine’s hospitals with the information and resources needed to make all organizations smoke- and tobacco-free. Learn more at BreatheEasyMaine.org. This initiative is supported through a grant from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Department of Health & Human Services.

HealthReach Community Health Centers is a Federally Qualified Health Center consisting of twelve community health centers located across Central and Western Maine. Dedicated clinicians deliver high-quality healthcare – inclusive of behavioral health, substance use disorder treatment, dental, and podiatric services – to residents from 9 of Maine’s 16 counties. To ensure access for everyone, HealthReach accepts Medicare, MaineCare, and major insurance providers. An Affordable Care Program is available to both uninsured and underinsured people. Assistance is available for applications to programs that help with your healthcare and medication costs – including enrollment support for Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

A private non-profit with a 49-year history, HealthReach is funded by patient fees, grants, and by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) as part of an award totaling $4,815,606 with 82.2% financed by non-governmental sources.

The contents above are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the official views of or an endorsement by, HRSA, DHHS, or the U.S. Government.