August 22, 2009 - Smokers still huddle outside the doors of more than half of America's hospitals -- and 65 percent of Virginia's -- a new study found.
The study, “The Adoption of Smoke-Free Hospital Campuses in the United States,” appears in the latest online issue of Tobacco Control. It was found that more hospitals are moving to having a completely smoke-free campus. In central Virginia, HCA's (Hospital Corporation of America) Chippenham and Johnston-Willis campuses went tobacco-free -- even banning smokeless tobacco -- last year, said Karen Nelson, executive director for marketing. In November 2009, HCA's Henrico Doctors', Parham Doctors' and Retreat Doctors' campuses will follow suit. John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell will go tobacco-free sometime after that, Nelson said.
"We felt this is the right decision for a health-care organization," Nelson said.
VCU Medical Center, meanwhile, faces the challenge that its buildings open directly onto public streets and sidewalks, where it has no authority to ban smoking, spokeswoman Pamela D. Lepley said.
Bon Secours Richmond has designated smoking areas at St. Mary's Hospital, Richmond Community Hospital, Memorial Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center, but the four hospitals will eliminate those in November, said Kim Brundage, administrative director for patient relations.
At that time, the hospitals will ban smoking everywhere, including parking lots, but will provide nicotine gum to visitors, she said.
In Virginia, 35 percent of hospitals ban smoking indoors and outdoors on their property.
Nationwide, 45 percent of hospitals ban smoking everywhere on their property, and about 36 percent make no exceptions. But 11 percent said they will, either for specific patient groups or by giving doctors and administrators authority to override a smoke-free policy. An additional 15 percent of hospitals say they are actively planning to implement completely smoke-free policies.
More rural than urban hospitals banned outside smoking. Teaching hospitals were more likely to allow outside smoking.
More than 70 percent of federal hospitals allowed outside smoking, and slightly less than 70 percent of for-profit hospitals did. Less than 45 percent of not-for-profit hospitals allowed smoking on their campuses, and 57 percent of stateor local-government owned hospitals did.
The survey was conducted by researchers of The Joint Commission, an accrediting agency, and the Henry Ford Health System.
PAPER: The Adoption of Smoke-Free Hospital Campuses in the United States, Scott C Williams, Joanne M Hafner, David J Morton, Amanda L Holm, Sharon M Milberger, Richard G Koss, Jerod M Loeb, Tobacco Control Published Online First: 20 August 2009, ABSTRACT...
Reference: Smoke-free policies at American hospitals by David Ress, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/22/2009.