WVU Health Sciences, Mon General and HealthSouth plan to be tobacco free Nov. 19

Great American Smokeout is target date

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –Three major health institutions in Morgantown are joining forces to have tobacco-free campuses by Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009 – the day of the Great American Smokeout. 

West Virginia University Healthcare and Health Sciences, Monongalia Health System and HealthSouth MountainView Regional Rehabilitation Hospital announced their plans at a news conference this morning. 

Policies for each entity are being developed that will apply to patients and visitors as well as physicians, nurses, staff and students.  All buildings have been smoke free for many years; the new policies will apply to the outsides of buildings, including sidewalks and parking lots.

“By eliminating tobacco use on our properties, we hope to set a healthy example for the community and promote positive health behaviors,” David Robertson, president and CEO of Monongalia General Hospital, said.

State Senator Roman Prezioso; Vickie Demers, HealthSouth;  David Robertson, Mon General; Bruce McClymonds, WVUH; Rolly Sullivan, M.D., UHA; and Fred Butcher, Ph. D., WVU Health Sciences

Morgantown's healthcare facilities are joining 39 West Virginia hospitals and 1,739 hospitals nationwide that have already gone tobacco free. 

“Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and disability in this country,” Vickie Demers, CEO of HealthSouth, said.  “As a healthcare organization, we have an obligation to provide a healthy, tobacco-free environment.”

Interim Vice President for WVU Health Sciences Fred Butcher, Ph.D., said that the Health Sciences building already has a 50-foot no-smoking buffer surrounding it.  To extend the ban to the sidewalks and parking lots will require WVU Board of Governors approval. 

“We are the healthcare leaders in this community, and in this state,” Butcher said. “This is something we must do, as educators, and caregivers and as health professionals. I’ll be asking the WVU Board of Governors to make sure the Health Sciences Center is fully included in this initiative.”

WVU Hospitals and University Health Associates will implement their own policies covering both on-campus and off-campus locations.

Committees representing all entities have been meeting weekly for two months to plan the transition to tobacco-free campuses.  The group has developed an eye-catching logo that will be used on signs and posters on all campuses to alert patients, visitors and staff to the coming changes.  Another major focus is providing assistance for employees and visitors who smoke or use tobacco.

“We are sensitive to the fact that this change may be difficult for some. Tobacco-cessation resources will be available for those who choose to quit or at least stop using while they’re on campus,” Bruce McClymonds, president and CEO of WVU Hospitals, said.  “However, the vast majority of our employees and patients are nonsmokers and will no doubt be happy about this decision.”


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
alj: 07-29-09

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