The ways Maine is No.1

Posted Jan. 02, 2012, at 9:08 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 02, 2012, at 9:54 p.m.

Maine’s hospital bathrooms are so clean.

How clean?

They’re nationally recognized. No dirty loos here.

In the whole country, we also have the most inbound border crossings, we’re kicking more butt and we’re biggest in Malaysia.

It’s like being big in Japan, but better, because it’s Maine, and we’re No. 1 in a whole slew of ways.

In honor of the New Year represented, let’s count them:

• Maine is the No. 1 “quit-friendly” state, so deemed by the American Lung Association, for the state resources available for quitting tobacco and cigarettes.

• The Institute for Economics & Peace ranked the Pine Tree State the most peaceful state in the country in its first U.S. Peace Index. Factored into that: The number of homicides, jailed inmates and police officers.

The distinction came as no surprise to Caribou Chief Michael Gahagan, president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

“They talk about ‘community policing,’ I think Maine has always been doing community policing,” Gahagan said. “For other states, that may be a new concept, but for us, that’s the way we do business.”

Related to that ranking: Maine recorded the lowest rate of violent crimes in the U.S. in 2007, according to the U.S. Census. The figure: 118 incidents per 100,000 people. South Carolina, on the opposite end of the spectrum, counted 788.

Less likely to make a state tourism brochure: Maine also ranks No. 1 in the most homicides by knife at 28.6 percent, so says the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Moving right along.

• According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, three cars drive over from Canada for every person who lives here, making Maine tops, per capita, in in-bound border crossings. That’s 4,086,811 cars and, presumably, some trucks. Eh.

• In all the states, Maine is first in the percent of total U.S. exports to Malaysia. Of the Malaysian trade pie, Maine claims a 15.8 percent slice, also according to the Census.

Maine International Trade Center staff said we’re sending mostly electronics and semiconductors, with some pharmaceuticals and paper.

• We’re voting more than anyone else. Slightly more than 58 percent of apparently civic-minded residents voted in 2010, according to government statistics. That participation rate was No. 1.

• According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 444 of every 100,000 people in Maine older than 11 sought help for opiates other than heroin in 2008, the highest treatment-seeking rate in the country. (Massachusetts had the highest rate looking to beat heroin.)

• That factoid on our hospital bathrooms? Courtesy of Kaiser Health News.

In fairness, it’s a three-way tie for the top honor, with Maine, Vermont and South Dakota all scoring 79 percent in the “room and bathroom always clean” category.

“The staff are going to be really anxious to learn that,” said Paul Blais, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center director of environmental services, who oversees housekeeping. “They do take a lot of pride in their work.”

Details count, he said. Cleaning supplies that don’t bother patients. An aide that double-checks rooms at night. A quality assurance specialist.

“He checks after a discharge cleaning, before a new patient comes in, he’s got a big list of every little detail,” Blais said.

Maine ties with Utah for No. 1 in the “definitely recommend hospital” category. With such spotless accommodations, no shock there.

• The state had a host of honorable mentions — a polite way of saying, “We’re No. 2!” — in biomass generation, bike-friendly roads, prenatal care for pregnant women, teenage volunteer rates, the percentage of young children who get read to every day and in- state laws protecting animals.

• Of course it can’t all be rosy. Maine ranks dead last in number of helipads. We have a paltry 12. Texas, at No. 1, boasts 450.

• According to the College Board, Maine also fell last among the states in average combined SAT scores in 2011. However, in the same chart, it ranked highest in the country in student participation taking the SAT, at 93 percent. (The state with the top SAT score, Illinois, had a mere 5 percent participation rate.) So, still, score another No. 1 for Maine.

To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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