Mercy Prepares to Go Smoke-free in 2008

SPRINGFIELD — To further its commitment to the prevention and treatment of disease, Mercy Medical Center will become a smoke-free facility on Jan. 1, 2008. The smoke-free designation will extend to all areas of the Mercy campus, including medical office space and parking lots.

Mercy’s Smoke-Free Environment Committee was formed last December under the direction of Leonard Pansa, vice president of Human Resources for the Sisters of Providence Health System. The committee was broken into smaller groups, each charged with various tasks related to gathering information and setting policy for the change to a smoke-free campus.

“It was important to set the date early on, so that employees and visitors would have an opportunity to become familiar with the policy. Also, we wanted to make sure that employees had enough time to take advantage of various smoking cessation programs, and we anticipate those programs will be available by late summer,” said Pansa.

Details of the initiative are still being determined. However, various subcommittees of the Smoke-Free Environment Committee are currently developing policies to ease the impact on patients and visitors, as well as smoking cessation assistance and enforcement guidelines for employees.

Officials admit the change to a smoke-free campus will be challenging, but the concept continues to gain popularity among numerous businesses, especially those in the medical field. According to Pansa, the management at the Sisters of Providence Health System is committed to the new policy.

“We are in the health care business, and we need to set an example for the community in terms of supporting a smoke-free environment.”

Pansa also hopes employees will view the new policy as an opportunity to improve their health.

“If someone is a smoker and they are able to reduce their smoking by 10{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} or 20{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} while they are on the Mercy campus, that change will ultimately contribute to their health,” he said.

“This policy change may also serve as an impetus for some individuals to quit smoking. We would see that as our greatest success.”