POINT PLEASANT — In conjunction with the Great American Smokeout Day, Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH) and all of its respective campuses have implemented their new tobacco-free policy.
On Thursday morning, several PVH employees and community members gathered in PVH’s lobby for the enactment of this policy. Tracy Call, director of community relations at PVH, welcomed the crowd and began the presentation. Call then introduced Tom Schauer, CEO of PVH, who addressed the crowd on several aspects of the new policy and the thoughts behind it. Schauer’s speech was as follows:
The Great American Smokeout Day is finally here. After six months of planning and preparation, the day has arrived. Nov. 15, 2012, marks a significant day for all of the campuses of Pleasant Valley Hospital. We have become tobacco free.
PVH is following the lead of many hospitals in the country to provide the safest environment possible for patients, visitors, and our employees. Our mission statement says that we will provide a culture of safety and quality healthcare. Our vision statement says that PVH will be the first choice for safe and quality healthcare. Finally, our core values list a culture of safety as being one of the keys to why we are here.
Few can deny that tobacco products are harmful to the health of the community. The Board of Trustees, medical staff and management are together in expressing the need to make our campuses as free as possible of the health risks of tobacco products. It is our obligation to do so for the health of the people who come to our campuses.
This venture is a major step for PVH. It will not be easy. Many people in the community use tobacco products and many have used them for years. It will be extremely difficult for many not to use these products while they are at PVH. For that reason, we have taken the several months to implement the policy. Education and assistance have been and continue to be available for our employees who need help with the issue. As an example over 80 employees have signed to stop smoking for the day altogether and have been adopted by non-smoking employees to help them.
The aim of the tobacco ban is not to stop people from smoking, but to prevent its use on our campuses. This is a healthcare issue and PVH is at the center of healthcare in this community.
I invite other agencies within the county to view our progress and to follow suit. We would certainly offer our assistance in helping others to do so.
All of us need to help with enforcement. While it is easier to deal with employees than with patients and visitors, we will not engage in overly dramatic confrontations. We must remember that our smokers are not criminals and will not be treated as such. However, we will enforce the new policy.
I want to emphasize that the hospital will do its best to be a good neighbor to the local businesses and homeowners and will attempt to avoid congregations of employees in neighbor’s yards or the parking lots of businesses for the sole purpose of using tobacco products.
Good luck to all as both tobacco users and non-tobacco users alike move forward and continue to make improvements that keep our patients and employees safe. The support of all is greatly needed and appreciated.
Following Schauer, Dr. Agnes Enrico-Simon addressed the crowd, reiterating some of Schauer’s points and expressing her excitement for this policy.
“I can’t believe this day is finally here,” Simon said.
Simon also discussed the beginnings of this policy, saying she and other employees thought it would take a while to get approved by the board and entail a long conversation alongside it. Much to her and the employees’ surprise, Simon stated the board approved the idea for the policy after about five minutes.
Michelle Stevens with the American Cancer Society spoke following Simon and discussed the history of the Great American Smokeout day, saying this day is always the third Thursday in Nov., and has served as a day to those who smoke to either quit smoking or to decide to quit smoking. Stevens added this was the 37th year for the Great American Smokeout.
Stevens also discussed some of the risks of smoking and how smoking can not only affect the smoker, but all those around the smoker as well, saying cigarette smoke contains 60 cancer causing agents.
As the presentation came to an end, Call acknowledged those attending and commented on the potential side effects come from tobacco products and how the policy can help prevent them.
“As hard as it is to quit smoking and tobacco products, it’s harder to fight cancer,” Call added.