March 15. 2011 - Smokers, tobacco users, even those using nicotine patches to kick the habit, shouldn't bother applying for a job at Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester,
Bixby Medical Center in Adrian or Herrick Medical Center in Tecumseh.
The three Michigan hospitals are among several health systems and some private companies across the country that have adopted policies to hire only nonsmokers and nontobacco users, citing the need to live up to their health missions. (e.g. Franciscan Health System - seeking a job don't use tobacco or don't even hang with people that use tobacco..)
The policies, which come after most hospitals have already banned smoking on their campuses, also help lower employee health care costs, said Laura Ritzler, director of wellness for ProMedica, which owns the Bixby and Herrick medical centers. And several national studies have shown smokers use more sick days and have higher medical costs than nonsmokers.
"Our mission statement includes the phrase we're 'dedicated to enhancing the health status of our community,'" said Jeff Kapuscinski, director of marketing and communications for Crittenton, which implemented its policy in November, "We think this policy is a natural extension of that and a necessary step in the journey."
All of the major health systems in southeast Michigan said they have no immediate plans to adopt a no-tobacco-use policy for new hires, but a few left the door open to change in the future. Insurers Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, HealthPlus of Michigan, Priority Health and Health Alliance Plan also don't have plans to implement nonsmoking hiring policies.
In two instances, Crittenton had to revoke job offers because the applicants tested positive for nicotine during a screening, Kapuscinski said. He said there are no plans to impose the policy on current employees, as it would be hard to implement and manage. The hospital employs 1,700.
Twenty-nine states have laws that prevent employers from discriminating against smokers in employment decisions, said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, a workers' rights advocacy group based in Princeton, N.J. In the mid-2000s, the institute tried unsuccessfully to help pass a similar law in Michigan following the firing of four employees at Weyco Inc. in Okemos because they smoked after the company adopted a no-smoking policy.
Crittenton, which hires 200 to 250 new employees each year, feels confident its policy does not discriminate, Kapuscinski said."Several courts have upheld there's no constitutional right to smoke," said Kapuscinski, who expects more Metro Detroit hospitals to follow Crittenton's lead. "We felt very comfortable that we were not discriminating."
Ohio-based ProMedica, a system with several hospitals, including the two in Michigan, launched its tobacco-free hiring policy in January, also to uphold its mission, Ritzler said.
Nicotine tests required. Like Crittenton, ProMedica requires applicants to pass a nicotine test.
Thirty-year smoker Cheryl Gomez, 52, of Lambertville, a nurse who works as a patient safety specialist at ProMedica's Toledo Hospital, said she agreed with ProMedica's hiring decision when it was announced last year. "It's the right thing to do from the standpoint of our patients and stewardship for the community," she said. "No one can argue with the evidence that (smoking is harmful)." Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. ProMedica's policy was the nudge Gomez needed to quit. She gave up her pack-a-day habit on Dec. 21.
Reference: Smokers need not apply at hospitals More Mich. facilities adopt policies to hire tobacco-free workers, Melissa Burden, The Detroit News, 3/14/2011.
A few related news briefs:
Franciscan Health System - seeking a job don't use tobacco or don't even hang with people that use tobacco..
Hennepin County, Minnesota - planning no smoking on all county property even inside your own car..;
Get that job in health care just quit smoking or don't start using tobacco..;
Each smoker costs an employer about $3,400 annually in higher health care bills..;
Massachusetts - Anna Jaques Hospital jobs - if nicotine test is positive do not apply..;
Massachusetts Hospital Association - as of January 1, 2011 will no longer hire users of tobacco products..;
Hospital in Georgia will no longer hirer new employees that use tobacco..;
Tennessee - hospital will no longer hire people that use tobacco products..