For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2011
Southcoast Health System to go 100% smoke & tobacco free on January 1
Use of all tobacco products will be prohibited at all Southcoast facilities, including adjacent grounds
The new policy will prohibit smoking and the use of all tobacco products on all Southcoast properties and adjacent grounds, including all three Southcoast Hospitals sites — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham. The new policy will apply to all patients, visitors, employees and anyone providing or receiving services at a Southcoast facility.
"As the region's health care leader, its largest employer and a strong community member, Southcoast is committed to providing a safe, healthy environment for patients, employees and visitors and to serve as a model of health promotion in our communities," said Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health System and Southcoast Hospitals Group. "We have a significant responsibility to provide a safe, healthy and positive patient experience at Southcoast. By becoming smoke and tobacco free, we are furthering this goal while maintaining our community leadership role as the source for health, healing and education."
Tobacco use is universally recognized as a bad health habit that leads to negative health consequences. Smoking is the leading preventable reason for premature death and illness in the U.S. and is the leading contributor to heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and emphysema. Smokers have increased gastrointestinal, prenatal and orthopedic complications. Patients who smoke have twice the risk of wound infection and are slower to heal after surgery or trauma. Smoking is the major cause of hospital admissions and readmissions. The South Coast region has one of the highest incidences of smoking in Massachusetts, at 23 percent, compared to the state average of 15.8 percent, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Richard T. Miller, MD, a thoracic surgeon specializing in thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology, speaks with patients on nearly a daily basis about the risks of smoking and rewards of quitting.
"I tell my patients that deciding to quit is the single most important choice they can make that gives them complete control over their health," said Dr. Miller of Southcoast Thoracic Surgery, who practices at the three Southcoast hospitals. "Smoking is a conscious choice and there are consequences associated with making this choice. It is not a critique or a judgment. It is unhealthy — and if you stop now, you will decrease your chances for greater health risks in the future."
Creating a healing environment
Southcoast Health System is dedicated to creating a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment that supports healing and eliminates exposure to secondhand smoke while on Southcoast grounds.
"The care we provide every day focuses on our patients by delivering compassionate, high-quality care," said Carol Conley, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Southcoast. "While work is already being done at Southcoast to create a healing environment — including efforts in noise reduction, call-light response, the treatment of pain and other areas — much work remains to be done. Eliminating the use of tobacco products and promoting smoking cessation efforts for our patients, such as Quitworks, are important steps in this process."
Southcoast Hospitals Group is dedicated to raising public awareness of the health risks associated with smoking and secondhand smoke. Southcoast has been recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for its dedication to the QuitWorks program at the three Southcoast Hospitals sites as part of an ongoing effort to address the region's high incidence of heart disease, cancer and chronic tobacco use. The program, which was created by DPH for use by health organizations across the state, provides free and confidential information as well as tobacco treatment counseling by telephone for any Massachusetts resident, regardless of health insurance coverage and is available to all patients who smoke while they are in the hospital.
As one of the highest QuitWorks users of among more than 30 health care organizations across the state, Southcoast Hospitals reported that, when contacted seven to nine months after cessation services or treatment, more than 20 percent of their patients were able to quit for at least 30 days. Southcoast was awarded DPH's inaugural "Make Smoking History Award" in 2009 for its work in encouraging patients to enter smoking cessation programs, such as QuitWorks.
"During the past three years Southcoast has actively discussed concerns about smoking in our communities and, more specifically, at our facilities," said David DeJesus Jr., Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Southcoast Health System. "Our Breathe Better campaign, initiated in 2008, has helped to reduce smoking at our sites and increase public awareness of this issue. Now it is time to continue that momentum by having our facilities become 100 percent Smoke & Tobacco Free."
For more information on Southcoast's 100 percent Smoke & Tobacco Free policy visit www.southcoast.org/breathebetter/.