For me, this is a rare story because it it combines two of my firm’s clients: NC Prevention Partners and Vidant Health. NC Prevention Partners is a leader within the healthcare industry in reducing preventable illness and early death caused by tobacco use, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. They’ve worked successfully with North Carolina hospitals to become smoke-free and are now actively working with healthcare organizations on healthy eating programs. One of my big areas of interest is in the development of healthy hospital environments. This benefits patients, family members, visitors and employees.
Recently, NC Prevention Partners announced that all 10 Vidant Health System hospitals (another of my clients) were recently confirmed as Gold Star hospitals! The hospitals being recognized for meeting all the criteria of the Quit Tobacco system for employees include Albemarle Health, Vidant Beaufort, Vidant Bertie, Vidant Chowan, Vidant Duplin, Vidant Edgecombe, Vidant Medical Center, Vidant Pungo, Vidant Roanoke-Chown, and The Outer Banks Hospital.
How did these hospitals qualify for this recognition? Upon completion of a Health Risk Assessment, tobacco users working in the Vidant Health System receive a letter encouraging them to sign up for a tobacco cessation program. This program includes counseling and six months of free FDA-approved prescription medication or nicotine replacement therapy. Those employees in the program are followed every month for six months, then yearly. Upon enrollment in the program, tobacco users and non-tobacco users are eligible for a nearly $650 reduction in their health insurance premium.
A number of Vidant Hospitals were also confirmed as Gold Apple hospitals for meeting the criteria for Healthy Food Environments: Albemarle Health, Vidant Bertie, Vidant Chowan, Vidant Duplin, Vidant Edgecombe, Vidant Medical Center, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan, and The Outer Banks Hospital. Across these hospitals, healthy food policies were reviewed and approved by a steering committee. All food is labeled with nutrition information, while 75% of all food available meets healthy food criteria, which is based on calories. Catering for corporate events must have 60% of its offerings meet healthy food criteria. Finally, these hospitals offer price leveraging in a variety of ways to encourage the consumption of healthy food options, from charging less for healthy options to buying “X” amount of healthy entrees and getting one free.
It makes sense to me that hospitals should set the standard for health work environments. I’m encouraged to see organizations like NC Prevention Partners make progress as they work to bring healthy practices into the workplace. Recently NC Prevention Partners has expanded its Healthy NC Hospitals initiative to SC and created the Working Well SC program, in partnership with the South Carolina Hospital Association. They are also working with New York hospitals on a smoking cessation program, working in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. NYU’s Langone Medical Center was the first hospital to join the Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign. Other hospital participating in the program include:
- Maimonides Medical Center
- Lenox Hill Hospital (NS-LIJ)
- Forest Hills Hospital (NS-LIJ)
- Staten Island University Hospital (NS-LIJ)
- Long Island Jewish Medical Center/Zucker Hillside Hospital/ Cohen Children’s Medical Center (NS-LIJ)
- Montefiore Medical Center
- Richmond University Medical Center
- St. Barnabas Hospital
- Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center
Congratulations to NC Prevention Partners and to all of the hospitals who are embracing the opportunity to create healthy environments for patients, families and employees.