Taylorville Memorial Hospital receives ICAHN’s inaugural “Community Project” Award

Darin Buttz and Lora Polley

Darin Buttz and Lora Polley, TMH Directors and Certified Instructors in the American Lung Association's N-O-T (Not on Tobacco) teen smoking and vaping cessation program, accepted the award on behalf of the hospital and junior high school.

In an effort to highlight and honor Illinois' critical access and small, rural hospitals that are making a difference for their communities, ICAHN announced its first-ever "Community Project" award during ceremonies held November 10 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign. This year's award winner was Taylorville Memorial Hospital, which worked in collaboration with Taylorville Junior High School on the "Catch My Breath" vaping/smoking cessation and prevention education program.


The "Community Project" award qualifications for consideration include a critical access or small, rural hospital within ICAHN's membership who strengthens the health of their community, improves the well-being of their community, and partners with community organizations such as schools, elderly services, children's groups, prevention groups, or faith-based organizations. Taylorville Memorial Hospital works specifically with the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students of Taylorville Junior High School.

"We identified lung health as a community health priority that will be focused upon for the next three years," said Darin Buttz, Director, Community Health, Taylorville Memorial Hospital. "The four one-hour sessions of the 'Catch My Breath' program show the harmful effects of vaping. We also teach the students refusal skills and how marketing targets youth."

The need for this project was identified by Taylorville Memorial Hospital's 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment, where lung health was identified as one of the three community health priorities. Implementing a smoking/vapig prevention program in the Taylorville School District was part of TMH's 2022-2024 Community Health Implementation Plan. A post-program survey revealed the 92.3% of the participants were less likely to vape as a result of the program. 91.6% of the participants claimed they learned a great deal about e-cigarettes, and 92.7% felt they understood e-cigarette advertising better as a result of the program. Additionally, 93.2% feel confident in using refusal skills learned in the program. Several students also came forward to ask for help with their addiction to e-cigarettes and vaping.

Buttz further noted that the collaboration included both hospital resources plus monies from the Foundation's Community Health Grant. "We asked for this program and partnership, because we've seen a huge volume increase in our kids using the vapes," said Jennifer Wise, Taylorville Memorial Junior High School Assistant Principal.

The "Catch My Breath" program uses a vaping sensor throughout the school and when vape smoke is detected, an email is sent within seconds to an administrator's phone showing the exact location of the smoker. "We are seeing a decline where the kids are just not taking the risk here in school because of this sensor and the risk of getting caught. The program has been very successful."