MaineGeneral Medical Center was recognized by the Maine Tobacco Free Hospital Network for achieving the highest level award, gold star, for its efforts to create a tobacco-free environment and support tobacco-free lifestyles.

MaineGeneral is one of 18 hospitals to receive the gold star award; an additional 13 hospitals were recognized with silver and bronze awards, according to a press release.

“As our mission states, MaineGeneral is committed to enhancing the health of the people in the greater Kennebec Valley. As a leader in the effort to reduce the serious and often devastating health problems that stem from tobacco use, we are dedicated to providing our patients and staff whatever help they need to quit,” said Lisa Simm, administrative director of quality and care management.

Simm credited Penny Townsend, business health and wellness manager at MaineGeneral’s Workplace Health, saying “without her enthusiasm we would not have achieved this recognition. We also have a team of dedicated health professionals in Respiratory Care, Employee Health, Prevention, Safety and Engineering who are committed to promoting a healthy environment for our patients, visitors and staff. It’s that kind of commitment that makes an award like this attainable.”

To achieve the gold star standard of excellence, MaineGeneral met all 10 of the Maine Tobacco Free Hospital Network’s criteria. Those include: maintaining tobacco free campuses; providing counseling, coaching and education to patients and staff; reducing patient and employee exposure to third hand smoke; covering tobacco treatment services in the employee health insurance plan; supporting education and training for employees who provide counseling and education; providing information about 100 percent smoke-free lodging to patients and families; implementing policies that outline the hospital’s guidelines; refusing all donations from the tobacco industry; and banning advertising or promoting tobacco products.