Earlier this month, Lake Health District’s Board of Directors approved a motion for support to move toward a completely tobacco-free hospital campus.
During their monthly business meeting held Thursday, Sept. 5, the board took the aforementioned action following extensive discussion of creating a completely tobacco-free campus.
Lake District Hospital CEO Charlie Tveit noted that electronic cigarettes have been made available in addressing the issue. The process of moving in the direction of zero tobacco usage on the campus by staff, visitors or patients is extensive and time-consuming, he said.
Human Resources Dir. Linda Michaelson said that such action had been previously attempted, but it did not have the support of the medical staff. The current goal is to have full implementation by May 1, 2014, she said.
“We’re one of the few facilities that are not smoke-free,” Michaelson said.
Dr. Mark Bradbury, MD, said the medical staff by and large supports the smoke-free movement, but also noted that tobacco usage has historically had a positive administered use as a mood stabilizer for patients with mental health issues.
Much of the board’s discussion focused on policies related to employee smoking. In this realm, Michaelson noted a concern for potential employee safety factors, as they travel outside and back to smoke on their breaks. At present, employees are not present to leave the campus for their breaks, she said.
Long-Term Care Dir. Melinda Utley noted that residents may not smoke on site, as family members must take them 25 feet away from the building in order to do so.
As employee breaks are paid time by the hospital, the district assumes the liability in the event of an on-the-job injury should an employee slip and fall in transit to or from a break, she said.
Board chairman Chuck Kelley said that employees and related smoking policies should be the starting point for this culture change, and that the district should do all it can to assist in the process of quitting smoking.
“If there’s any way we can help our people we need to do it,” he said.
Registered Nurse Michael Hughes said that he has experienced and witnessed extensive resentment toward the anti-smoking effort.
Utley said the estimated cost for a dedicated smoker’s kiosk site is about $30,000.