Working Well, a collaboration between the South Carolina Hospital Association and NC Prevention Partners, has recognized the Laurens County Health Care System as the first hospital in South Carolina to meet its Gold Star standard. The Gold Star recognizes hospitals for providing the highest standard of excellence for the tobacco cessation programs offered to their employees.
In order to receive this recognition, Laurens County Health Care System (LCHCS) addressed several components of an effective quit tobacco system recommended by NC Prevention Partners. LCHCS employees who are interested in quitting can participate in the Freshstart Cessation Program free of charge, and they are eligible to receive up to $400 worth of nicotine replacement therapy and FDA-approved prescription medications to aid their quit attempt. Upon enrolling in a cessation program, LCHCS employees are also eligible for a discounted health insurance premium, and once they have quit, employees are eligible for further reduced premiums.
“Through innovative strategies in policy language, enforcement practices, and system approaches to cessation assistance, Laurens County Health Care System is blazing a trail for hospitals in South Carolina and beyond. Their executive-led commitment, spearheaded by CEO Rich D’Alberto, to help their employees lead tobacco free lives is inspiring,” commented Jen Wright, Working Well Manager with the South Carolina Hospital Association. “This is just one shining example of why they have also been designated a Center of Excellence.”
According to recent reports, 20 percent of hospital employees are tobacco users, costing employers around $5,000 a person each year in health care costs and lost productivity. Rich D’Alberto, President and CEO of LCHCS applauded hospital staff for their work to improve tobacco cessation systems at LCHCS. "Our Gold Star effort to become a tobacco free health care facility was a well planned, well orchestrated process that required disciplined action first from our employees and medical staff", D'Alberto said."I credit their enthusiastic involvement to the program's success."
“The tobacco cessation programs at Laurens County Health Care System will affect nearly 100 employees,” explained Melva Fager Okun, senior program manager with NC Prevention Partners. “These changes will result in exponential savings over time, but more importantly, they will save lives.”