In the post below, Truman Medical Centers President/CEO John Bluford gives us a glimpse into how the hospital has carefully implemented a hiring policy based on tobacco usage, which was one of the 64 prevention strategies competing in Health Madness. Even though hiring practices was eliminated early on, Truman Medical Centers is truly embodying the spirit of Health Madness by implementing policies that have a healthful effect on its environment and its employees.
Tobacco represents one of the most preventable health hazards our society faces today. The health benefits of quitting smoking or, better yet, never starting are astronomical.
For many years Truman Medical Centers (TMC), like most healthcare facilities, has been smoke-free inside our facilities. In 2005, TMC took the next logical step and prohibited the usage of tobacco products anywhere on our property, and employees were strictly prohibited from smoking while on work time.
In 2006, tobacco-related illnesses including throat and lung cancer, congestive heart failure and asthma accounted for more than 25 percent of all TMC inpatient admissions. As a healthcare provider with a mission to improve the health of the community, the next step was huge but also the right thing to do to improve the healthcare environment, our workforce and our patients. TMC implemented a policy to no longer hire tobacco users. This made TMC the first employers in the Kansas City area and one of the first hospitals in the country to take this bold, innovative step.
The policy was implemented immediately, grandfathering any employees already on staff but were asked to take smoking cessation classes and were still prohibited from using tobacco while on TMC property. The new policy had, and continues to have, nothing but a positive impact on recruiting top talent. The responses about the policy from patients and visitors were overwhelmingly positive, since caregivers no longer brought the smell of smoke into the healthcare environment. Overall the workforce is healthier and the environment is cleaner.
TMC also started a trend across the country as major healthcare systems such as the Cleveland Clinic implemented similar policies.
This was just the first step in what has become a major health and wellness focus for TMC. Since this policy has been implemented, TMC has redesigned patient and staff dining with healthier options, removed all full sugar and calorie snacks and sodas from vending machines, built full service staff gyms and started weekly farmers markets at both campuses.
The next goal will be the building and opening of a full service grocery store in the urban core, expanding access to healthier eating options. And yes, the staff at the grocery store will be tobacco-free as well, because TMC is leading the way to a healthier community in Kansas City.