Mercy Health Love County - News

Hospital Now 100% Smoke and Tobacco-Free

Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013

Tobacco-Free Hospital: Carolyn Garner, registered respiratory therapist and respiratory care practitioner, displays signage and receptacle emblematic of the new policy barring smoking and smokeless tobacco use anywhere on Mercy Health/Love County property, to include parking lots and grounds. 
The local Board of Control for Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic, and EMS has adopted a 100% tobacco-free policy.
The policy went into effect February 1.
Smoking and the use of other tobacco products no longer are allowed inside or outside buildings of the hospital, clinic, or ambulance stations or anywhere on the grounds, including inside parked cars in the parking areas.
Becoming a 100% tobacco-free facility has been a several year process. Previous policy barred indoor smoking only and there were an enclosed smoking lounge and an open smoking pavilion on the perimeter of the property.
In addition to eliminating those areas, the new policy prohibits all tobacco products in all locations. Products include cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes.
The policy applies to all hospital staff, patients, and visitors.
In announcing the new policy, Mercy Health/Love County Administrator Richard Barker noted that the Board’s stance is in concert with the practice at hospitals and clinics affiliated with Mercy Health System of Oklahoma and with the Health Improvement Initiative of the Oklahoma Hospital Association.
All have cited a commitment to maintaining hospital environments that minimize health risks and support health and wellness.
In referring to State Department of Health data, Carolyn Garner, registered respiratory therapist and respiratory care practitioner, said tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Oklahoma.
She associated inhaled tobacco smoke with breathing problems and more serious airway diseases like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
Together these conditions trail only heart disease as the leading cause of hospitalizations in Love County.
Garner said second-hand smoke contributes to asthma and ear infections in children.
Garner is responsible for implementing the new policy and promoting local and online smoking cessation and support programs for patients, staff, and the community.
She said even before the policy went into effect, cessation drugs regularly were administered to tobacco users to help them avoid withdrawal symptoms while hospitalized and unable to smoke.
“Some have used that help as a springboard to quit altogether after they leave the hospital,” Garner said.
“There was no resistance among employees. All of them are going along with the new policy and want to accept cessation assistance,” Garner said.
“As a facility, we will cover 90 days of FDA-approved aids, such as nicotine patches or gum or the drugs Chantix or Wellbutrin.”
All tobacco users in Oklahoma are entitled to services at 1-800-Quit-Now (784-8669). They include free help with coaching, patches, and/or medication.
Garner offered these additional cessation tips for those who want to quit smoking, dipping, or chewing tobacco:
  1. Change habits associated with reaching for a cigarette. If you got up and smoked a cigarette with coffee, reach for a glass of water or juice instead. 
  2. Don’t substitute eating for smoking. Grab a straw and chew on it. 
  3. The strongest urge lasts about 10 seconds. Use that time to walk around the house or building or talk to someone until it passes. 
  4. Brushing your teeth removes the urge. 
  5. Keep your hands busy during the urge to smoke. Flip a wristband or stick twist or wrap, or get up and move.