UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL AND UMASS MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER OFFER HELP FOR SMOKERS ON CAMPUS

Institutions’ joint Tobacco Free Initiative effective May 27

March 26, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass.—Since UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center announced last November that their campuses will become tobacco free on May 27, much behind-the-scenes activity has been underway to help prepare employees, students, patients and visitors to comply with the new policy. In particular, UMMS and UMass Memorial have made a significant investment in support services to help smokers. “As health care professionals, we recognize how challenging it can be to quit, and that’s why we’re investing in resources like smoking cessation support systems, including prescription medications and nicotine replacement,” said Walter H. Ettinger, MD, MBA, president of UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Medical staff will prescribe nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications to nicotine-dependent patients upon admission, and refer both inpatients and outpatients to smoking cessation resources like the Massachusetts Smokers Hotline, a free and confidential counseling service of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. A new Smoking Consultation Service will help patients refrain from smoking, and begin to quit if they desire, while receiving care at UMass Memorial Medical Center. And staff, faculty, students and volunteers of both institutions who view the new policy as an opportunity to change their tobacco-use habits can take advantage of these services at no cost.

“More than 150 people have visited Employee Health Services and our Prescription Center to inquire about obtaining nicotine replacement therapy and prescriptions since we introduced the support program on March 1, representing about seven per cent of the estimated 2,200 UMMS and UMass Memorial employees who smoke,” noted Gregory Seward, MSHCA, director of the Tobacco Free Initiative. “We expect and hope that many more will take advantage of these no-cost benefits, which are available through September.”

Those who don’t choose to quit completely are nonetheless encouraged to take advantage of nicotine replacement therapy options to reduce nicotine cravings while on campus. Seward also noted that employees, students, patients, visitors and volunteers who use tobacco will be encouraged to be good neighbors by not moving to contiguous properties to smoke.

“As a physician who has seen the devastating effects of tobacco, I am very proud that UMMS and UMass Memorial Medical Center campuses have undertaken efforts to become tobacco free,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, UMMS interim chancellor. “The joint initiative will reduce the risks of exposure to smoke, including second-hand smoke, among those who work, study and receive care at our institutions.”

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About the University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, hailed as the "Breakthrough of the Year" in 2002 by the journal Science and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.

About UMass Memorial Health Care

UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, with 1,700 physicians and over 10,000 employees.  Its comprehensive network of care includes teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services.  UMass Memorial Medical Center is a three-campus acute care hospital comprised of the University, Memorial and Hahnemann campuses. UMass Memorial Health Care is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. For additional information, go to www.umassmemorial.org.

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Contact: Sandra Gray, Public Affairs, 508-856-2000, ummsnews@umassmed.edu