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MaineHealth Expands Community Health Improvement Efforts, Launches First Health Index Report to Track Progress on Six Key Health Indicators

(Portland, ME) January 3, 2011 -  MaineHealth, the state's largest integrated healthcare delivery network, announced the release of its first Health Index Report from the Health Index Initiative. The initiative was created to monitor MaineHealth's progress in fulfilling its mission to make Maine communities the healthiest in America. MaineHealth uses America's Health Rankings® as the framework for its Health Index Initiative. America's Health Rankings is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation's health on a state-by-state basis and is considered by many to be the gold standard of state health status rankings.

MaineHealth's Health Index Initiative tracks progress on six key health indicators: child immunization rate, tobacco use, prevalence of obesity, preventable hospitalizations, cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality. The 2010 Health Index Report shows how the system and its partners are addressing each of the indicators through clinical, community and policy strategies.

The 2010 Health Index Report highlighted some good news about heart disease: Maine's cardiovascular mortality rate has decreased steadily in the past 15 years, and has been consistently lower than the overall U.S. rate. Further, cardiovascular mortality rates in the 11-county MaineHealth service area are lower than in northern and downeast Maine, evidence that MaineHealth's strategies are helping reduce deaths from heart disease.

Reducing the smoking rate remains a high priority. While the prevalence of smoking among Maine adults has decreased in the past decade, there is still much work to be done; almost one in five adults still smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use is a primary contributor to Maine having the 7th highest cancer mortality rate in the U.S.  Maine's mortality rates for lung/bronchus, bladder/urinary and esophageal cancers are significantly higher than the overall U.S. rates; the leading cause of all of these cancers is tobacco use.

Obesity prevalence among Maine adults has almost doubled in the past 15 years. The Health Index Report shows a range of obesity rates throughout the state, from 19.7 percent in Lincoln County to 32.7 percent in Somerset County. Maine's youth are also at risk: 26 percent of high school students are overweight or obese.

MaineHealth is developing strategies to increase the percent of children receiving all recommended immunizations, one of the most cost-effect preventive health measures.  Immunizations reduce preventable illnesses and save more dollars in healthcare costs than are spent for administering the immunizations.

The 2010 America's Health Rankings report highlighted that Maine as a whole has improved its overall health rank from #9 in 2009 to #8 in 2010. The report identified several Maine strengths, including a low violent crime rate, low rate of uninsured population, low incidence of infectious diseases and ready access to early prenatal care.

To view the Health Index Report, click here:

See America's Health Rankings Maine snapshot here:

About MaineHealth
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit family of leading high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together to make their communities the healthiest in America. Ranked among the nation's top 100 integrated delivery networks, MaineHealth includes the following member organizations: LincolnHealth (Miles Memorial Hospital and LincolnHealth – St. Andrews Campus & Healthcare Center), Maine Medical Center, Maine Mental Health Partners (Spring Harbor Hospital), Pen Bay Healthcare (Pen Bay Medical Center), Southern Maine Medical Center, Waldo County Healthcare (Waldo County General Hospital), Western Maine Health (Stephens Memorial Hospital), HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, Maine Physician Hospital Organization, NorDx and Synernet. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Medical Center, Mid Coast Hospital and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.
About America's Health Rankings®
America's Health Rankings® is the longest running report of its kind. For 21 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socio-economic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The data in America's Health Rankings comes from well-known national sources, such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, US Department of Education, and the Census Bureau. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars.

About the United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality healthcare services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $176 million to improve health and healthcare.


Contact: Deb Deatrick
MaineHealth, VP, Community Health
(207) 661-7505



110 Free Street | Portland, Maine 04101 | (207) 661-7001