Medical center will become smoke-free | NevadaAppeal.com

Medical center will become smoke-free

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Dustin Shrum, 29, flicks the ash from his cigarette while waiting for his fiancee to be seen at the emergency room Monday at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. A smoking ban will take effect June 1 on all but one of Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare's properties.
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A smoking ban will take effect June 1 on all but one of Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare’s properties.

With its move to promote a healthful image, the health-care system may instead be kicking smokers’ butts into the street.

Literally.

Medical Parkway, which runs around the medical center, is the only piece of public property on the 80-acre North Carson City campus. On hospital property, people will be admonished by security staff to extinguish their smokes.

Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare is one of the first hospitals in Northern Nevada to take this step. Renown Regional Medical Center has designated smoking areas. Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, also in Washoe County, allows smoking away from entrances. Carson Tahoe’s new policy follows a statewide smoking ban that went into effect at some businesses and public places in December.

Carson Tahoe hospital officials said this new policy promotes health, but an employee and some patients complain this takes away the rights of smokers.

“I guess we just won’t smoke,” said Janice Wyke, a hospital patient and a smoker, who was waiting to be seen in the Emergency Room on Monday afternoon. “Or we’ll go all the way down the street.”

“What are they going to do – write us a ticket?” asked her fiance, Dustin Shrum, a Carson City plumber.

To light up, Shrum went outside the ER’s doors to a small smoke hut. The 8-by-6-foot building seats eight people, but often is “standing room only” during the usual smoke breaks after meals. In about two months, the hut will be snuffed out.

“Our mission is to enhance the well being of the communities we serve, and to do that and have smoking on our campus seemed to be a dichotomy,” said hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner.

The ban includes the old hospital property, which is an acute-care facility, at 775 Fleischmann Way; all surrounding hospital professional buildings; the Minden Medical Center and the Dayton Professional Building.

Glockner said the Behavioral Health Services building is exempt because patients there are struggling to overcome other addictions and the added pressure of not smoking may be too much.

The health-care system’s board of trustees approved the policy in January, partly inspired by the state smoking ban.

Jo Saulisberry, trustee with the hospital board, said the policy will be bothersome to smokers, but it’s their property.

“I am against having anybody smoke,” she said. “I had a sister who was a heavy smoker. She died of emphysema. It was hard to see her smoking, but she thoroughly enjoyed it.”

To her knowledge, there isn’t a smoker represented on the board.

Glockner said employees will be expected to follow the policy – but she declined to name penalties.

Lauren DeLaCruz, a pack-a-day smoker who works in the hospital’s telemetry unit, said the policy starts a slippery slope in violating the rights of patients and employees.

“We have a right to choose,” she said. “Smoking is not illegal in this country. Maybe next they’ll decide you’re 30 pounds overweight, and you have to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or that you can’t have any coffee on this campus. This is just one step.”

Glockner said they tried to implement a nonsmoking policy back at the old hospital, but smokers still found a way to light up.

“It left staff with no place to go but out on the street,” she said. “The visual itself was not complementary to our mission.”

This time, the hospital is sponsoring a smoking-cessation class for staff.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.




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