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SMH Awarded Grant to Improve Oxford County Wellness

Western Maine Health/Stephens Memorial Hospital President and CEO, Timothy A. Churchill, announced today a $19,988 grant has been awarded to help fund the newly formed Oxford County Wellness Collaborative by The Bingham Program.

In response to data detailed in the 2011 OneMaine Community Health Needs Assessment citing Oxford County as Maine’s unhealthiest county Stephens Memorial Hospital with assistance from MaineHealth the Western Maine District Public Health Coordinating Council, Healthy Oxford Hills and River Valley Healthy Communities initiated community forums in Paris and Bethel in the fall of 2011 to heighten awareness of these results. At both forums attendees reviewed current data, discussed key elements contributing to Oxford County’s poor health status and then began discussing possible solutions in small groups. At the Bethel forum a decision was made by members to bring the two groups together. In February 2012, the consolidated group of more than 60 individuals met and convened joint task forces: community safety, healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health/substance use. By the end of this meeting, the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative was officially formed by group consensus.

The Planning Group responsible for the three forums includes the following organizations: Stephens Memorial Hospital, Rumford Hospital, Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Oxford Hills, Let’s Go! Oxford County, River Valley Healthy Communities, Western District Public Health Coordinating Council, and the Maine CDC.
The Bingham grant will allow the formation of the Collaborative’s organizational mission, vision and structure, as well as implement priority action projects within the areas named above. Stephens Memorial Hospital has agreed to act as the temporary administrative home for the Collaborative and will provide space and office equipment.  MaineHealth, the parent of Stephens Memorial Hospital, has provided significant in-kind technical assistance to this initiative and will continue to do so.

The Bingham Program is a charitable endowment established to promote health and advance medicine in Maine and is administered by Tufts Medical Center.  A major focus of The Bingham Program has been to improve health service delivery in Maine, particularly in rural areas.


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