UNION — By going tobacco-free the Union Medical Center struck gold.
In a ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Emily O’Sullivan, Working Well Program Manager for the South Carolina Hospital Association, presented Union Medical Center CEO Paul Newhouse with a Gold Star Award in recognition of UMC’s implementing “Tobacco-Free Best Practices.”
The UMC is part of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and a press release issued by the SRHS states that the Gold Star Award, which is presented through the SCHA’s Working Well initiative and Prevention Partners program, recognizes organizations “for achieving the highest standard of tobacco-free excellence by creating a tobacco-free workplace and providing high-quality tobacco cessation programs for employees.”
In accepting the award, Newhouse said “we’re extremely pleased to be recognized in this way. We strive to provide excellence in health and keeping our associates healthy plays an important role in that.”
Newhouse thanked those who had helped make the award and what it represents possible.
“We are excited to be recognized for creating a tobacco-free workplace and providing high quality tobacco cessation programs for employees as part of the Working Well Program,” Newhouse said. “There are a lot of people involved in making this happen for us. We’d first like to thank Emily O’Sullivan, the program Director and Jen Wright the Director of South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well initiative for guiding us through the process. We also want to thank The Duke Endowment and SC DHEC for providing funding to help spread the Working Well program throughout the State.
“At UMC, we offer our special thanks to Angie Benfield, Libby Leonhardt and Rena Goode for getting the program in place at UMC and implementing the program for our associates,” he said. “Finally we’d like to thank the Spartanburg Regional Health System for developing and providing to our associates the cessation program programs to assist those who want to kick the habit.”
Newhouse added that UMC is going to continue to work improve the health of its personnel.
“As the main healthcare provider in Union, UMC believes that we need to lead the way to improving the health of our community, starting with our own associates,” Newhouse said. “We will continue this effort, by further developing our Culture of Wellness which also include Nutrition Programs and encouraging our associates to be engaged in more physical activity. We just completed the Commit to Get Fit Step Challenge as part of this program which was a great way to get everyone moving.”
The press release further states that “organizations are awarded with Prevention Partners’ Gold Star for this achievement. In order to receive recognition, hospitals must institute a tobacco-free work site policy, refer their employees to effective programs and counseling to help them quit smoking, provide comprehensive cessation benefits (nicotine replacement therapy and prescription medications) and offer incentives to encourage employees to quit using tobacco. These are among several evidence-based components recommended by Working Well and Prevention Partners for comprehensive quit-tobacco systems in the workplace.”
Union Medical Center is not the only SHRS hospital to be recognized for its tobacco-free workplace policies. Pelham Medical Center also received the Gold Star Award from the SCHA.
“Pelham Medical Center strives to be a healthy campus,” said Tony Kouskolekas, president of Pelham Medical Center. “It’s wonderful to see our organization honored in this way.”
Spartanburg Medical Center received this designation in 2013.
Prevention Partners works with the SCHA’s Working Well initiative to engage corporate leaders and staff throughout South Carolina to enhance and sustain employee wellness efforts. These efforts are generously funded through the Duke Endowment.
“These hospitals set a high bar in terms of their cessation program for employees. Employees are provided every opportunity to be successful in quitting the use of tobacco, and all employees are protected from exposure to secondhand smoke at the workplace,” Taylor Pritchard, strategic coaching senior coordinator at Prevention Partners, said. “I applaud their great effort.”
About Working Well
Working Well is a statewide strategy to improve workplace wellness policies, systems and environments around tobacco cessation, healthy nutrition and increased physical activity so the healthy choice is the easy choice for employees across South Carolina.
According to its website (www.scha.org/working-well) “tobacco use, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity are three top risk factors leading to early and preventable disease. These risk factors have a major impact on employers by contributing significantly to increased health care costs, absenteeism, lost productivity, and poor employee health and morale. The simple truth is that unhealthy employees are less productive and engaged than their healthier peers.”
The website states that “Working Well can help employers develop a strategic plan to impact employee health by focusing on policy, systems, and environmental changes, which are often low or no cost. The goal of Working Well is to help employers create a sustainable culture of wellness around four key pillars by using effective, evidence-based best practices to create worksites where the healthy choice is the easy choice.”
Working Well got under way in 2011 when, according to its website, SCHA received a multi-year grant from The Duke Endowment to launch the initiative. The website further states that “Working Well is collaborating with similar initiatives, including those coordinated by Eat Smart, Move More SC and SC DHEC, to capitalize on these resources. SCHA teamed up with the Prevention Partners to support South Carolina hospitals in their efforts to develop and implement wellness policies and work environments that promote better health. Working Well has helped participating hospitals assess, implement and maintain evidence-based and effective policies designed around the four pillars of an effective worksite wellness environment.”
For more information about Working Well, contact Jen Wright, Working Well Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Prevention Partners
The nonprofit Prevention Partners builds healthier communities through a suite of products that guide schools, workplaces, hospitals and clinics to address the leading causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, obesity, and stress. With expertise in public health and organizational change, the organization translates the latest prevention science into real-world practices — policies, benefits, and environmental changes. Its technology innovations have created broader access to prevention expertise while collecting unique metrics and setting national benchmarks for organizational health and behavior change.