Archived Story

SMH campus going tobacco-free

Published 11:09am Saturday, September 29, 2012

FRANKLIN—Lisa Rickmond may have found a way to quit smoking.

A registered nurse at Southampton Memorial Hospital, Rickmond will have to leave the grounds to smoke when the hospital campus goes tobacco-free on Nov. 8.

“I’m leaning toward trying to quit,” the 49-year-old Franklin woman said. “It’s about time. I’ve smoked since I was 13.”

The ban means visitors and employees can no longer light up on the grounds, which includes the parking lots that serve the hospital, four medical offices and East Pavilion nursing home, said Anne Williams, director of marketing.

Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings.

The ban also will include the areas of Courtland Medical Center and Total Family Care next to Belk department store off Armory Drive in Franklin.

To help the estimated 10 percent of the hospital’s 425 employees who smoke, a free smoking-cessation program will be offered to them and their families, Williams said.

Rickmond plans to participate.

“I plan to take advantage of every tool,” she said. “Being a long-term smoker, I know it’s going to be a challenge.”

An April study labeling Franklin as one of the least healthy localities in Virginia inspired the ban, Williams said.

The study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked Franklin 127th out of 131 cities and counties in health outcomes. The results were attributed to high unemployment and poverty rates.

The study indicated that 22 percent of Franklin residents smoke, which is 3 percentage points higher than the state average.

“It makes sense for us to be the leader in a community to make people healthier,” Williams said. “We are the health care provider of the community.”

The hospital will provide free nicotine patches to employees and tobacco-cessation counselors.

Nicotine gum and lozenges will be offered to visitors and employees, she said.

Employees currently smoke in their cars, parking lots and outside the hospital where benches and ashtrays are provided, Williams said.

Rickmond, the clinical coordinator for the medical surgical floor, goes to her car to smoke for privacy.

“Smoking has always been kind of a conflict for me personally,” she said. “I’m a pretty open considerate smoker, but you want to live what you teach.”

“I’ve smoked for a lot of years and don’t get the same enjoyment,” Rickmond continued said. “It’s very expensive and I’m in the minority now. My lifestyle is leaning toward healthier choices, exercise and diet.”

“(If they want to smoke) they will have to be off our property,” Williams said. “Certainly, we discourage them to walk to the street or stand on someone else’s property. We are really trying to encourage our staff to take this opportunity to become healthier and give them the tools they need to quit smoking.”

“We are not trying to penalize our smokers or our staff,” she added.

“That’s a personal choice.”

Hospital Smoking Ban

* Visitors and employees will have to leave the grounds of Southampton Memorial Hospital to smoke when the hospital campus goes tobacco-free on Nov. 8.

* The affected areas include the parking lots that serve the hospital, four medical offices and East Pavilion nursing home, according to officials.

* Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings.

* The ban also will include the areas of Courtland Medical Center and Total Family Care next to Belk department store off Armory Drive in Franklin.

* Hospital employees who smoke will be offered a free smoking-cessation program for them and their families

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