Healthcare Organizations Partner to Become Tobacco-Free - Bronson Healthcare

Published on April 16, 2007

Battle Creek Health System, Borgess Health & Bronson Healthcare Group working together to promote healthier environment

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Kalamazoo and Battle Creek’s largest healthcare organizations have announced plans for all of their properties to become tobacco-free on October 1, 2007. While each organization’s healthcare facilities have been smoke-free for years, smoking has been permitted in designated outdoor smoking areas on their campuses.

Effective October 1, the designated smoking areas will be eliminated and all health system properties, including medical practices, fitness centers, diagnostics locations, etc., will maintain tobacco-free environments.

“Our health systems are taking a leading role in this endeavor within our communities,” said Frank Sardone, Bronson president & CEO. “We hope to set an example that will extend to other workplaces and public facilities throughout southwest Michigan.”

“The goal is to help curb the use of tobacco in an effort to lower the incidence of devastating diseases and health complications linked to tobacco use, as well as reduce the expense to employers and health plans,” said Paul Spaude, president & CEO, Borgess Health. “Going tobacco-free will improve the healthcare environment for our patients, family members, employees, physicians, volunteers and all those who come to our facilities.”

“We agree that the most effective way for us to provide the best environment for all individuals is to become tobacco-free,” said Pat Garrett, president & CEO, BCHS. “For that reason, we are happy to join our colleagues in Kalamazoo to make this positive change in our policy.”

Historically, smoking rates in Michigan have been among the highest in the country; one in four adults is a smoker and annually nearly 30,000 kids under 18 join those ranks. According to the Michigan Department of Health, the direct medical costs attributable to smoking are nearly $2.65 billion annually.

Productivity and healthcare costs can be better managed by implementing a tobacco-free policy. Employees who smoke have higher medical and dental costs, and have greater absenteeism. At the workplace, 35 minutes a day (18.2 days per year) on average is lost in productivity time per smoker.

All three organizations will be promoting programs and tools to assist employees in kicking the tobacco habit over the next six months. Smoking cessation kits and nicotine replacement tools will continue to be made available to patients prior to and during hospitalization.

According to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), 35 of Michigan’s 144 hospitals have officially established smoke-free campuses. MHA is encouraging all healthcare organizations in the state to do likewise and support efforts to ban smoking in public places by January 1, 2008.