Haywood Regional goes tobacco free
NC - Today’s the day Haywood Regional Medical Center’s tobacco free policy goes into effect.
All smoking containers have been removed and the familiar gazebo, where smokers congregated, is gone. Banners were erected across the hospital campus in September, notifying staff, patients and visitors of the upcoming ban on smoking and use of tobacco products on hospital premises.
Sam Sharp, director of engineering for the hospital, erected new signs early this morning, letting people know the tobacco ban is now effective.
The tobacco free policy applies to all persons, including staff, physicians, inpatients, outpatients, visitors, students, vendors, contractors, subcontractors and volunteers. And, it means no one can smoke inside their vehicles while on the hospital property.
The Haywood Regional Medical Center board voted last May to adopt the tobacco free policy. Hospital officials waited a year to begin enforcing it to allow time to educate and assist employees and members of the community with cessation sessions.
“We think our employees recognize that we have given them time to know what we are trying to accomplish,” said Eileen Lipham, HRMC vice president of professional services and chairwoman of the recently appointed tobacco-free committee.
“We have provided resources to help them quit. We’ve been offering cessation classes for employees and their families for several months, and I feel we’ve been very successful,” Lipham said. “The majority feel like it’s the right decision. But, for a few staff members it will be a tough day.”
If employees choose to smoke, it will have to be during their half-hour lunch break, Lipham said.
“They must clock out and leave the campus to smoke. They will not be able to smoke during breaks,” she said.
The hospital has a disciplinary policy that addresses infractions. A first offense, for example, would receive a verbal warning. Subsequent violations would involve written warnings, suspension, and could lead to dismissal, Lipham said.
“We have trained our security staff about how to talk to patients and visitors and the ban has been well publicized,” she said.
“I think it will be like handicap parking, where 99 percent of the people are not going to abuse that, but a small percentage do,” Lipham said.
Mission Hospitals went smoke-free Nov. 18, 2004. Buildings on the Mission campus have been smoke-free since the 1990s and patients were not permitted to smoke in their rooms.
There have been no big problems since adoption of the smoke-free policy for the entire campus, said hospital spokeswoman Merrell Gregory.
“Most people have been very understanding. Occasionally a visitor, who is either unaware of the policy or who chooses to ignore the policy, will smoke on the hospital grounds. We politely ask them to put their cigarette out and they typically comply,” Gregory said.
Hospital employees have the option of walking off campus to smoke, she said.
“We haven’t had any problems with staff,” Gregory said. Angel Medical Center in Franklin also established a smoke-free policy two years ago. Pardee Memorial Hospital in Hendersonville, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and Firsthealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst have smoke-free campuses, as well.
Peggy Manning can be reached at 828-452-0661, ext. 127, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.