In a rural area of Franklin County Maine, community members embarked on a health initiative aimed at reducing risk factors and improving wellness. This effort has been in place for over 4 decades, continues to grow, and has seen drastic reductions in hospitalizations from heart disease and stroke. The community has bonded together to raise awareness for chronic health conditions, help improve lifestyle choices, and encourage wellness. These initiatives include blood pressure screening
, cholesterol testing
, and encouraging community members to quit smoking. Regular sessions are held at various local places such as town halls, church basements, schools, and work sites. As a result of this program and the resultant community involvement, the death rate has dropped by a third. Additionally, the decrease in hospitalizations has reduced health spending by as much as $5.5 million annually. An added benefit is that the quit smoking program has encouraged the rate of non-smokers to rise nearly to 70% from 48.5%. It is clear that regular screening and a group effort toward improving the health of a community can have a significant effect socially, financially, and medically. The drive of this community has encouraged an increase in healthy lifestyle choices, additional awareness, and has reduced the physical and financial costs of illness.