Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Challenge Issued to Smoker-Free Hospitals: Put Up or Shut Up

Today, the Rest of the Story is issuing a challenge to hospitals which have adopted smoker-free hiring policies: extend your policy to include physicians and then we will take note of your setting a positive example for your patients. Otherwise, get off your high horse and stop boasting about how you are modeling healthy behavior for the population.

It is easy for hospitals to tell nurses, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and administrative staff that they will not be hired if they smoke. But the physicians and surgeons are the ones who are actually treating the patients. If they are smokers, then the hospital's claim about setting a good example and modeling healthy behavior goes down the tubes.

Most physicians are not covered by existing hospital smoker-free hiring policies because the physicians are not hired directly by the hospitals. This means that current smoker-free hiring policies are pure window dressing.

I think it's time to find out whether these hospitals really are willing to stand up for what they claim to be a principled stand. So today, I challenge these hospitals to extend their smoker-free policies to include treating physicians in their hospitals. Test all physicians for cotinine and revoke treating privileges for those who test positive, otherwise cease and desist from boasting about how you are standing up to promote a healthy workforce and a healthy community.

While not a complete list, some of the hospitals I am challenging today include the following:
  • The Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH)
  • Truman Medical Centers (Kansas City, MO)
  • Franciscan Health System (Tacoma, WA)
  • Florida Hospital Waterman (Tavares, FL)
  • Florida Hospital Fish Memorial (Orange City, FL)
  • St. Francis Medical Center (Cape Girardeau, MO)
  • Anna Jacques Hospital (Newburyport, MA)
  • University Medical Center (El Paso, TX)
  • Gwinnett Medical Center (Lawrenceville, GA)
  • St. Luke's Hospital (Allentown, PA)
  • Memorial Health Care System (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Susquehanna Health Systems (Williamsport, PA)
Allowing physician and surgeon smokers to work in a hospital but not nurses or other staff who smoke is an example of classist bigotry. Surely these hospitals do not want to continue to make such a distinction. This challenge is a great opportunity for these health care institutions to eliminate this classist bigotry and to make it clear that they really do stand for the principle of setting a good example for their patients and promoting a healthy workforce and a healthy community.

No comments: