Aug 03 2010
Starting today, Capital Medical Center, Providence St. Peter Hospital and Providence clinics will ban smoking and chewing tobacco.The no-tobacco policy will apply to the parking lots and outside areas. Employees, patients and visitors no longer will be allowed to go outdoors to smoke or use tobacco products, according to the hospitals’ officials.
Nicotine replacement options, such as medicated patches or nicotine gum, are not banned under the proposal. The hospitals announced the new policies jointly in March.Both Thurston County hospitals will ban smoking and chewing tobacco starting in August, which will mean that employees, patients and visitors can no longer light up anywhere on the grounds of Capital Medical Center, Providence St. Peter Hospital, or any of the hospitals’ clinics.
The no-tobacco policy, which is still being refined by staff, will begin Aug. 2, and Providence St. Peter and Capital Medical Center will start to inform employees and post signs informing the public of the change, officials of both hospitals said Monday. The change also will apply to Providence Centralia hospital and Providence’s clinics in its Southwest Washington region.
“It’s an investment in our community’s health,” said Medrice Coluccio, chief executive of Providence Health and Services in Southwest Washington.
Capital Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Joe Sharp said that making the announcement five months in advance allows time for employees to prepare for the change, including smoking cessation resources and training on informing patients and visitors of the new policies.
“It will take some time to make it happen,” he said.
The no-tobacco policy will apply to the parking lots and outside areas, which also means that after Aug. 2 patients will no longer be allowed to go outdoors to smoke or use tobacco products, according to the hospitals’ officials. Nicotine replacement options, such as medicated patches or nicotine gum, are not banned under the proposal.
Other hospitals in the region have adopted similar policies, according to hospital officials. Examples include Mason General Hospital, Morton General Hospital, and Providence hospitals in Everett and Missoula, Mont.
Rex Bolin, a pulmonologist with Providence St. Peter who supports the change, said an attempt to ban smoking from Providence about 15 years ago did not succeed, but attitudes and knowledge about smoking have since changed.
“When I came here in 1987, people could smoke in their rooms,” he said.
Sharp also remarked on the changes in attitudes. Sharp said he was a respiratory therapist in an era when “almost everybody smoked.” A pulmonologist in his department smoked, and there were ashtrays in the nurse’s station.
“Think of the evolution. We used to sell cigarettes in the gift shops in the hospitals, and we’ve come all the way to here we are today saying we’re not going to have any tobacco products on campus,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, and, as an employee said at Capital today, ‘It’s about time.’”