By Ramona du Houx

January 28, 2010

af879e98ea3bb920-wdsc_0118-copy-300x252Governor Baldacci talks about Photo by Ramona du Houx

Anywhere in Maine people can go online and take the first step that could improve their health. All a citizen needs to do is to finish a health survey at and information to improve their health will be the result. A personal report is created based on answers to a series of questions about a person’s health history and habits. It only takes about fifteen minutes to answer the questions. The website also provides links to free and low-cost health services and local community resources that can help people improve their health.

In the week since Governor John E. Baldacci announced the Keep ME Well initiative during the State of the State, close to five hundred people accessed the website.

“Free, voluntary and confidential, Keep ME Well will help Maine people be as healthy as they can be,” said Governor Baldacci. “I encourage everyone to take the time to complete the survey and gain an understanding of how to lower your risk for disease and improve your health.”

Keep ME Well is the Governor’s universal wellness initiative – enacted last year by the Maine Legislature aimed at empowering the people of Maine with preventative health care measures.

“ is a convenient way for people in our community to improve their well-being,” said Connie Putman of the Knox County Community Health Coalition, a Healthy Maine Partnership. “ is an important new tool that gives people information and resources so that they can gain more control over their lives and avoid those high and preventable costs that drive up premiums and fill our emergency departments.”

People in Maine traditionally move issues forward in towns and cities regionally to progress what their communities need. With healthcare a number of nonprofits, businesses and the state were working diligently but desperately to improve the health and well being of the people of Maine. When the Governor was elected he began the process to streamline and organize these groups building more partnerships and shared resources, as part of Dirigo Heath Reform. As a result Maine now has a comprehensive public health system making access to healthcare easier for people. The universal wellness program is an important next step.

“Maine’s public health system is serving Maine people by connecting them to the resources in their communities and by coordinating health care so it is delivered better,” said Baldacci. “A statewide system of comprehensive community health coalitions now exists that maximizes resources and stretches critical funding to meet the benefit of all Mainers. We’ve consolidated 150 grants that did not provide statewide coverage, into 28 local statewide Healthy Maine Partnerships grants that do. These local community organizations are providing preventative care options.”

Trish Riley of the Governor’s Health Office said, “Over the past seven years we’ve created an efficient public health system. We now have eight districts we didn’t have before with staff there to help people stay healthy and prevent disease. We now cover the entire state through Healthy Maine Partnerships. We just completed a survey which found that four hundred million dollars is spent in Maine annually which is avoidable with preventative healthcare.”

Maine’s public health system, has been building self-management tools that help individuals with a chronic condition monitor their health and make changes to maintain their quality of life. Local Healthy Maine Partnerships, offer community support with exercise options, healthy eating workshops, and programs such as Living Well.

Hannaford Supermarkets, the first to join and promote Keep ME Well will highlight the service through their Employee Wellness program and through pharmacies for the public. Additionally, the Maine State Library will be partnering with libraries across the state to assure access to Mainers who do not have computers.

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