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Hospitals and Related Healthcare Facilities Going Smoke Free
October 1, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HOSPITALS AND RELATED HEALTHCARE FACILITIES IN COUNTY TO GO SMOKE-FREE

PITTSFIELD, NORTH ADAMS, MA – The two primary providers of healthcare services in Berkshire County, Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) and Northern Berkshire Healthcare (NBH), have announced that their facilities throughout Berkshire County will become completely tobacco and smoke free in 2009. This includes all of the county’s hospitals, Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital and North Adams Regional Hospital, as well as other NBH healthcare facilities and BHS-owned or leased facilities, such as BHS physician practices, outpatient testing centers and administrative offices.

To date, BHS and NBH facilities are predominantly tobacco and smoke free, with the exception of limited designated spaces. Under the new tobacco and smoke free initiatives, these facilities, interior and exterior, will be tobacco and smoke free.
NBH facilities will be tobacco and smoke free beginning on January 5, 2009, and BHS facilities will be tobacco and smoke free on March 1, 2009.

“As the leading healthcare providers for the residents of Berkshire County and the many who visit our area each year, we feel it is only logical that we take this step to further improve the health of our communities,” said BHS President and CEO David E. Phelps and NBH President and CEO Rick Palmisano, in a joint statement.

“This change is all about encouraging a culture of health and wellness – on our campuses and in our community,” said Deborah Simmons, Executive Director of NBH’s REACH Community Health Foundation. “It is one piece of our multi-pronged effort to improve health, which also includes tobacco cessation programs, fitness and nutrition programs, breast health education and support and many others that have been in existence for years. We are turning our attention again to the issue of smoking, and how we can be the model for healthier behaviors.”

“A key part of our mission is to improve the health of our community, and by providing a smoke-free environment for our employees, our patients and visitors, we are contributing to better health,” said Ruth Blodgett, Senior Vice President, Berkshire Health Systems. “In addition to improving the environment for the non-smoker, we hope this will help encourage smokers to quit. We recognize that quitting is not easy, and we are committed to giving all who choose to quit the support they will need in taking this very important step.”

Employees, patients and visitors of both healthcare providers may not smoke or use tobacco products while on any of their campuses or properties. NBH and BHS offer comprehensive assistance for smokers, including smoking cessation programs to help smokers quit, and these programs and other support will be provided to employees, their families, patients and visitors.

NBH’s REACH Community Health Foundation offers Quitters are Winners, a community smoking cessation program for adults, and QuitLinks, a program geared for women of child-bearing age. BHS provides community and employee smoking cessation programs at both BMC and Fairview Hospital, and BMC has a program designed to help pregnant women quit smoking, called the Smoke Free Pregnancy Alliance. All programs offer counseling options and nicotine replacement therapy.

Smoking Cessation Contact Information:
For more information on NBH smoking cessation programs, call Jennifer Civello at 413-664-5567. For more information on Berkshire Medical Center programs, call Carol McMahon, 413-499-2602, and at Fairview Hospital, call Gerri McQuoid, 413-528-2663.

Media Contact Information:
For more information on the smoke-free initiatives at either Berkshire Health Systems or Northern Berkshire Healthcare, call Paul Hopkins (NBH) at 413-664-5142 or Michael Leary (BHS) at 413-447-2788.


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