Mid-Michigan Hospitals Going Smoke-Free

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Ingham Regional Medical Center's Greenlawn Campus has two designated smoking areas -- one behind the Administration Building, the other on the fifth floor of the parking garage.

"Around the hospital, I think it really gives a bad impression to our patients and their families, all the folks that work here, to see folks smoking outside," says IRMC's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Geoffrey Linz.

After January 1st of next year, ash trays at Ingham Regional Medical Center will be no more. That's because both campuses will go entirely smoke free.

"We really wanted to take the first step and take the lead in recognizing the dangers of smoking and the dangers of secondhand smoke," Robert Wright, President and CEO of IRMC says.

IRMC along with eight other Mid-Michigan hospitals, including Sparrow, Hayes Green Beach Memorial, Eaton Rapids Medical Center, and Clinton Memorial, plan to go smoke free by two thousand eight.

"People have to pass through that smoke, and even though it's not often that you might go through the area, you're still inhaling it as you go through," explains HGB's Chief Nursing Officer Maureen Sheppard.

She also says allowing employees to smoke, sends patients mixed messages.

"We're talking about their healthcare, and we're saying you need to quit smoking, you have chronic lung disease. But I'll be outside having a cigarette, and I'll be back in and smell like smoke."

While some are angry about the decision, others, like IRMC employee Samara Gonzales, don't mind.

"I'm trying to quit as it is, and it would probably give the people that are trying to quit an incentive to do that," she says.

Adds Wright, "We're going to work with employees and try to provide them with support. If they need to have a nicotene patch by their doctor, we'll assist them in that."

Until then, smoking on hospital campuses will continue, but only for only for six more months.

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