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CRMC tobacco free April 1

Friday, March 24, 2006

Move is final phase of process establishing tobacco free campus

The Cherokee Regional Medical Center will be tobacco free effective April 1st.

Beginning on that day, no tobacco use will be permitted on the organization's campus, which includes the hospital, the Wellness Center, the Beck, Cherokee Regional Clinic-Cherokee, any of the grounds or in hospital vehicles.

This also includes the facilities and grounds at the Cherokee Regional Clinics in Holstein, Marcus and Aurelia. Tobacco use may only be allowed for patients that possess a physician's written order to do so.

According to CRMC officials, this decision involved labored consideration over the question of individual rights of employees and visitors, versus the organization's role as a health care entity. Many hospitals have begun making changes in their policies regarding tobacco use and the Iowa Hospital Association came out in support of all Iowa hospitals unifying in their efforts to move to tobacco free organizations.

In April of 2005, Cherokee Regional Medical Center implemented its first phase of its tobacco free campus plan by designating one specific location on the Cherokee campus where tobacco use was permitted, thus prohibiting it anywhere else on hospital property. This step removed it from the parking lots and regularly trafficked areas of the hospital grounds that were already very congested. The employees of the organization and visitors alike responded very positively to this change.

In December of 2005, Cherokee Regional Medical Center implemented its second phase by introducing a health and wellness plan, which would commence January 1st 2006, that encouraged fitness and health of employees, as well as making available tobacco cessation programs and the patch at no cost to employees. At this time employees were informed of the hospital's intention of going tobacco free.

On January 4 of 2006, the health and wellness program, tobacco cessation, and availability of the patch were implemented with an outstanding turnout of 107 participants.

In February of 2006, in addition to the health and wellness options already existing, the dietary department at the hospital began making available an alternative light lunch option that offered employees and visitors a lunch option under 500 calories.

"While making the decisions to implement the wellness program, the healthy lunch option, the tobacco cessation programs, and the patch came easy, the decision to change to a tobacco free campus was not made lightly," said John Comstock, CRMC President and CEO.

"One on either side of the debate might look at the question and consider it as simply black and white but there are philosophical, human resource, and customer service impact factors that needed to be assessed. When all was said and done, the bottom line is that we are health care and how can we truly embrace our charge of promoting the health and well being of our community and service area, while at the same time allowing an activity that is not only known to kill the participant, but also harms and kills so many innocent others, take place on the same campus that works so hard to heal and save?"

Comstock added that Cherokee Regional Medical Center believes this is a progressive and necessary step that further solidifies their commitment to health care and sincerely hopes that those who are employed by, served by, and are visitors of the hospital, clinics, wellness center, and Beck understand, respect, and adhere to this decision.

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