Good Shepherd Hospital to Ban Smoking - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/19/04 - Longview

Good Shepherd Hospital to Ban Smoking

The designated smoking areas outside Good Shepherd are almost never empty. But soon, hospital employees, patients, and visitors who smoke will have to find another place to take their breaks. The end of this month marks the end of smoking on Good Shepherd property.

"It's all about creating a healthy environment for our patients and our visitors and the staff as well," Jeff Jennings, Chief Operating Officer, said.

Jennings says it's also about setting a healthy example for the community. So if smokers want to smoke while they're at Good Shepherd, they'll either have to smoke in their car or go off campus. The new rule has some smokers outraged.

"I think it's ridiculous, the prices that we pay, and we come up here to visit someone, and we can't even come outside to smoke," Karon Morris, a visitor who smokes, said. "And it's air. We're not in a building. We're outside."

Mary Spencer, another visitor who smokes, agrees: "You have a lot of employees that smoke. Also, you have a lot of people that come up here and visit their family, and they're under a lot of tension. And they're not going to give up smoking just because they can't come up here to the hospital."

For most non-smokers, the upcoming policy change is welcome news. Jana Miller was a smoker for more than 40 years, until six months ago. Jana has been smoke free ever since she went through Good Shepherd's program to help smokers quit.

"Once you stop, it becomes very noticeable and sometimes very offensive," Miller, a nurse manager at the hospital, said. "And I can only imagine now what my smoke probably did to non-smokers before."

Good Shepherd hopes the inconvenience will just sway smokers to kick the habit altogether. The hospital says it's encouraging its employees and family members covered under their health plan to enroll in the hospital's free smoking cessation class. Another East Texas hospital is planning to go smoke free. The UT Health Center in Tyler says it will implement its policy starting July 1.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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