Lisa Rickmond had been struggling to quit smoking for quite some time when she learned she would be getting some unexpected help. The Southampton Memorial hospital where she works as a registered nurse decided the campus would become tobacco-free. The 49-year-old from Franklin, Virginia welcomes the help and says she has been smoking since she was 13 years of age.
The ban means that both employees and visitors must leave the grounds if they want to smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products. This includes the parking lots of four medical offices and a nursing home, reports Director of Marketing, Anne Williams. Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings associated with Southampton Memorial Hospital.
The ban will also include the outside areas at Total Family Care and Courtland Medical Center.
It is estimated that about 10 percent of the 425 individuals that work at the hospital will be affected by not being able to enjoy a smoke at work. The hospital will help these workers by making a free smoker cessation program available to them.
Rickmond says she will take part in any program that is offered. She explains that as a person who has smoked all her life, she knows she needs all the help she can possibly get.
Williams says the ban was inspired by a report that identified the city of Franklin as one of the least healthy localities in the state of Virginia.
The study was conducted at the Population Health Institute of the University of Wisconsin in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Of the 131 counties observed in the study, the health status of Franklin was deemed 127. The health problems in Franklin have been blamed on high unemployment rates and poverty.
The study was also able to determine that 22 percent of Franklin residents were smokers. The statewide average is 19 percent. Williams says the status of Southampton Memorial Hospital as a health care provider in the county meant it inherited the responsibility to lead the way on this important health care issue.
Southampton Memorial will provide employees with free nicotine patches. They will also make tobacco cessation counselors available to them. Visitors to the hospital will be provided with nicotine gum and lozenges.
Williams explains that before the ban, employees were allowed to smoke in parking lots and outside the hospital wherever ashtrays were located.
Rickmond says she would often go to her car to smoke when she had a break. She says she has struggled to quit smoking for many years of her life. Rickmond says she tries to be considerate to non-smokers but knows she should do more to lead by example.
The nurse continues by saying she does not get the same enjoyment from her smoking habit that she once did. Rickmond says it is a lot more expensive to smoke now than it used to be and she feels a little ostracized now that not as many people smoke cigarettes. Rickmond also says that not smoking is one part of a bigger effort to guard her health that includes eating better and getting more exercise.
Williams says both employees and visitors who wish to indulge in tobacco products will now have to leave the hospital premises to do so. They are encouraged to walk away from the hospital until they reach the street or stand on a nearby property. Williams explains also the staff at Southampton Memorial Hospital is being encouraged to take this opportunity to do something positive for their health. She added the hospital is not trying to penalize guests and staff members who smoke cigarettes.
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