A national, nonpartisan health care institute has recognized the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram’s 10-part series, “Lost: Heroin’s Killer Grip on Maine’s People,” as one of 10 finalists for its excellence in journalism award.

The National Institute for Health Care Management each year awards a $10,000 prize for excellence in health care reporting and writing by print journalists. The Washington, D.C.-based organization also recognizes excellence in digital media, television and radio journalism and trade publications. The awards are judged by an independent panel of current and former journalists.

Also named finalists in the print category were ProPublica, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, the Orange County Register and Kaiser Health News.

“We’re honored that our work is being recognized alongside the country’s most prestigious news organizations,” said Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Press Herald/Telegram. “Public service journalism is our principal mission and when that work helps the most vulnerable among us, it’s very rewarding.”

The “Lost” series, published last spring, was the result of a year-long effort by more than 50 reporters, photographers, editors and designers. In addition to profiling 60 individuals who had died from overdoses, the series explored how the opioid crisis took root in Maine, how the state’s signature lobster industry has been hit especially hard, and how women are at greater risk because of a lack of services. It also found that the state was slow to respond to the growing crisis, both in treatment and prevention, and that stigma and shame still exist as barriers to progress.

The health care management institute will announce the winners at a June 5 ceremony.

In addition to its annual awards, now in their 24th year, the institute funds research, hosts webinars, drafts briefs on policy matters and offers experts to comment on a host of health-related issues.

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