NORTON, Kan. – Norton County Hospital and Norton Medical Clinic properties have been tobacco free, but beginning Jan. 1, 2020, an updated policy approved by the hospital’s Board of Trustees will take effect. Employees serving on the hospital’s Wellness Committee created the policy.
Norton County Hospital for many years has not allowed smoking in or around its facilities and properties, due to a Kansas statute banning smoking in medical care facilities and Kansas Hospital Association standards that include voluntarily expanding that ban to all hospital property.
This new policy at Norton County Hospital goes a step farther, however. It means that tobacco product use is prohibited while in work attire or while otherwise representing the hospital and clinic. Employees are prohibited from using tobacco products during work hours, at any other time on company property and at any work-sponsored event.
Visitors to company-owned or operated property are also prohibited from using tobacco products. Visitors will be made aware of the policy through signage posted at the hospital and clinic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three cancer deaths in the U.S. is linked to smoking. Smoking also leads to many other diseases and disabilities, because it harms nearly every organ of the body. In addition to smoking cigarettes, other products that contain nicotine are harmful to health; these products include, for example, chewing tobacco and vaping. Tobacco products such as these are also prohibited at the hospital and clinic, and are outlined in the policy.
“We are ‘health,’ and this policy is a step in the right direction for modeling healthy living,” said Gina Frack, Norton County Hospital CEO. “Our hospital's greatest asset is our employees, and we are committed to creating a healthy environment for every member of our team. We also look forward to serving our patients better by providing them with the comfort and care they deserve.”
Frack added that as part of the policy, the hospital will support employees who want to quit using tobacco products by providing them access to recommended tobacco cessation programs, medication and materials.
The policy was a grassroots effort, as it was developed by the hospital’s Wellness Committee that worked throughout 2019 with guidance from WorkWell KS, a statewide worksite initiative that provides leadership and resources for businesses and organizations to support worksite health.
WorkWell KS aims to implement sustainable changes to benefit both employers and employees. Research shows that most U.S. adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work. With health care costs rising and more research citing that work-based nutrition and physical activity initiatives are improving employee health, employers are increasingly looking at implementing these formal worksite programs.
If you have specific questions or would like a copy of the new tobacco-free workplace policy, you may contact the Norton County Hospital at 785-877-3351.