Date: 4/9/2010

Hospitals of Community Healthcare System implement Tobacco-free Policies, sparking incentive for Employees to Quit Smoking

For the health, wellbeing and comfort of patients, visitors, physicians and staff, the hospitals of Community Healthcare System and their respective outpatient facilities will be tobacco-free as of April 15. Smoking and chewing tobacco will be prohibited in all indoor and outdoor areas of Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, along with the hospitals’ outpatient centers.

Both chewing tobacco and cigarette smoke have been identified as the leading cause of many illnesses, and secondhand smoke has been found to be harmful to others while in the same environment. To protect everyone on the hospital campuses and at outpatient facilities from the negative side effects of secondhand smoke, tobacco and smoking of any kind will not be permitted anywhere on the grounds - including parking lots, inside vehicles and on adjacent sidewalks.

“At the hospitals and outpatient centers of Community Healthcare System, healing is our mission, and we want to uphold our promise to the community both indoors and out,” said John Gorski, Chief Operating Officer of Community Healthcare System. “We also want what’s best for our employees and the other part of our goal with this effort has been to help our staff quit smoking so they can lead longer, better quality lives.”

Community Healthcare System has been helping employees who want to quit by conducting smoking cessation webinars and workshops, and providing the assistance of outside resources.

The web sessions and workshops are designed to help employees understand the negative effects of smoking; identify the benefits of quitting, and learn about the different options and strategies involved with quitting.

“Our decision to become tobacco free is directly related to our objective as a healthcare provider, which is to promote the wellbeing and safety of our patients, visitors, employees, volunteers and the communities we serve,” Gorski said. “We want to set a positive example. Nonsmoking patients, visitors and staff are entitled to tobacco-free areas surrounding our campuses and other public spaces.”

Use of tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, resulting in approximately one-half million deaths annually or nearly one of every five premature deaths each year. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “smoking cessation represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives.”

Help is available to quit smoking. For assistance, please consider the following resources:

• The Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
• Community Healthcare System FREE physician referral line at 219-836-3477 or toll-free at 1-866-836-3477 to make an appointment with a primary care doctor on staff at Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago or St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.