Friday, March 03, 2006

Up in Smoke

I just received word that my hospital will be going to a smoke-free work environment this fall. This on the heels of another inner-city hospital making a similar announcement. No one, not family members, not employees, would be allowed to smoke on hospital property. Employees would either get ticketed or fired, I imagine family members would be ticketed.

I have worked for another hospital that started out smoke free. We had to sign some lame little contract promising we wouldn't. I don't smoke, so I really didn't care. It was interesting to see that over the course of many years, I would spot more and more people outside in common areas lighting up, and not a cop-for-hire in site to reprimand them. When I left, I think the smoke-free thing was just sort of cast aside...like a groupie the day after the concert.

Now that two of KC's largest hospitals have started this initiative, I think it only a matter of time before the other hospitals follow suit. It's not a brilliant marketing tool to lure potential patients..."Come to Bob's Community Hospital...You're One-Stop Lung Cancer Center". Their new slogan could be "Get It and Quit It...All In One Place".

Whatever.

I'm curious to see how some of my coworkers fall in line with this new policy, because they smoke like that area in JoCo did the other day. It would be dumb to quit a job just because you couldn't smoke on campus. I can just tell the ACLU is chomping at the bit for this one. They haven't made headlines in months, and they surely don't want us to forget they exist (like that is possible).

Like I said, I don't smoke, so I really don't give a crap about what other people do to their bodies. It's just job security for me. However, I do remember one incident where some lady was coming to visit a sick family member, and had to pass through a gauntlet of smokers at the front entrance. She had a massive asthma attack right there at the front door and had to be admitted. It was after that incident, the smokers were re-routed to the back of the hospital...out of site, out of mind.

It will only be a matter of time before ALL public places have a smoking ban.

4 comments:

Kathryn said...

Interesting..I wonder how the nurses in IM especially in General Med will react to this one. Hmm..I am laughing right now.

K2

Xavier Onassis said...

OK. I have former family members who work at these hospitals. They brought up some good points that I totally agree with.

Suppose you are a smoker whose wife was just mangled in a car accident. You want to be close to your wife and you are freaking out wondering if she is gonna live. They won't let you in the operating room and you can't smoke on hospital property.

Is the hospital really helping matters by forcing the next of kin a half a mile away to relieve SOME stress to prevent some welfare emergency room patient with a sprained ankle from catching a whiff of smoke?

Or, on the hospital staff side, let's say you've just been elbow deep in a trauma patient who, despite your best efforts, died on the operating table. Think you you might want to step outside and have yourself a smoke?

This is an assinine policy that will do more harm than good.

Heather said...

I think once the bans go into effect, the cries of the smokers will be heard across the Midwest, but it will eventually die down and life will go on. As I said before, it is only a matter of time until all public places have a smoking ban in place. Smokers are the minority, and majority rules.

I think the ban will encourage some employees to kick the habit, or just find different methods for dealing with stress...methods that nonsmokers have been utilizing for years. Smoking is not the only way to decompress.

It's hard to be a "pillar of health" (which hospitals are supposed to be) when unhealthy practices are condoned on hospital grounds.

In that respect, I can see their point for enforcing smoking bans.

I also think it just boils down to money. Perhaps there's some sort of discount in insurance if there is a smoking ban. Not just health insurance, but for overall liability.

Uno Kidney said...

Heather,
The main hospital in Boise, the Elks Rehab hospital (where I work) as well as the out patient therapy portion of the organization are all smoke free. We have these HUGE metal signs sitting out in front of all buildlings, including all small solo sites. They take is seriously, I think at least, and I always see employees smoking in their cars or across a fence. I think it is a great statement, espcially for a health care facility. And I LIKE NOT walking through clouds of smoke when I want to get somewhere. The Lawfirm my husband works at will not hire smokers. They make you sign something, and if it turns out that you are a smoker after the fact, you get fired on the spot. Interesting.