Augusta University Medical Center has been named the recipient of the Georgia Hospital Association’s prestigious Community Leadership Award for its smoking cessation efforts throughout the Augusta area.
The medical center was recognized for its work with community partners American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Family Y of Greater Augusta and the Georgia Cancer Center in creating the BreathEasy Augusta coalition to raise awareness on the dangers of secondhand smoke in the workplace.
The BreathEasy Augusta coalition was formed in 2012 to urge lawmakers to consider making businesses in Augusta’s Richmond County smoke-free. After months of advocating with legislatures, the city passed a new ordinance on Jan. 1, 2019, making all workplaces and public buildings smoke- and vape-free, with the exception of hookah bars and vape shops.
Jennifer Anderson, director of Respiratory Care Services at Augusta University Health and chair of BreathEasy Augusta, says receiving this award from GHA speaks to the hard work the coalition put in to make community businesses safer for employees and patrons.
“I was very proud to be a part of such a great team and be recognized by the GHA,” she said. “We know our efforts will continue to improve the health of those living and working in Augusta/Richmond County.”
GHA also applauded the medical center for its partnership with the Georgia Cancer Center, the university’s Georgia Prevention Institute and the Augusta Housing Authority in offering the Augusta University Tobacco Cessation Program, especially to residents living in Augusta’s public housing communities. With a focus on early detection of smoking-related illnesses, residents receive on-site tobacco cessation counseling and resources as well as free lung screenings.
“Smoking cessation programs reduce the risk of contracting smoking-related diseases for both smokers and non-smokers,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “We applaud Augusta University Medical Center for its dedication to addressing this issue and for empowering its community to take control and be healthier. We are pleased to present Augusta University Medical Center with this esteemed award.”
“Augusta University and AU Health are proud to partner with such strong community organizations that all play a collaborative role in moving us toward a more smoke-free Georgia and shaping a healthier future for the citizens of our community,” she said.
The GHA Community Leadership Award was established in 1997 to recognize a GHA-member hospital that has made exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of the people of Georgia through leadership in the area of community health improvement.