May 26, 2024

CALAIS, ME – Washington County Community College among 7 Higher Education Organizations Celebrated for Leadership through Annual Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program

The annual Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program Awardees have been announced for 2024. The program of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Initiative recognized forty-four hospitals, healthcare organizations, higher education organizations and behavioral health organizations and four individual Gold Star Champions for efforts to address tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Celebrated organizations received a plaque for their achievements in advancing their campus smoke and tobacco-free policies as well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles.

WCCC was recognized for meeting Gold level through the 2024 Gold Star Standards of Excellence program for efforts to prohibit smoking and tobacco use on campus and addressing client tobacco use. WCCC is committed to continuing to address tobacco use and exposure.

The efforts at WCCC have been a part of the Student Advocacy and Resource Center and have been coordinated by Student Navigator Bernadette Farrar. The mission of the Student Advocacy & Resource Center is to demonstrate respect and care for each student as we endeavor to deeply understand their needs and work tirelessly to help remove barriers to critical basic-needs resources using holistic assessment and case management as a best practice.

All Maine behavioral health organizations, hospitals, higher education organizations and healthcare organizations were encouraged to apply for recognition. Organizations are recognized at the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy, annual screening for tobacco use, referral to tobacco treatment and supporting employee education related to tobacco treatment.

“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 the Center for Tobacco Independence. She continued, “Advice and assistance from healthcare providers are powerful tools to help individuals to quit tobacco products, these awardees are taking key steps to support their patients, clients, and communities.”

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