Karl Gills: Tobacco free | SteamboatToday.com

Karl Gills: Tobacco free

— More than 45 years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office declared that smoking is hazardous to health. Yet this behavior remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disability in our country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, Yampa Valley Medical Center will take a proactive step to become 100 percent tobacco free on our campus. The tobacco ban will apply to all patients, employees, medical staff members, volunteers and visitors. YVMC joins 45 hospitals across Colorado, including The Memorial Hospital in Craig, in prohibiting tobacco use on hospital property.

This means that as of Jan. 1, no tobacco use of any kind will be permitted inside or outside the hospital, the Doak Walker Care Center, GrandKids Child Care Center or the Medical Office Building. Parking lots and all surrounding YVMC-owned property are included in this ban.

As a health care provider, YVMC's primary goal is to promote and protect health. By eliminating tobacco use on our property and collaborating with the tenants of the Medical Office Building, we seek to encourage positive health behaviors.

We recognize the challenges that many individuals face in breaking the addiction to nicotine. We are not telling anyone that they must quit smoking, but we are saying that we will not allow tobacco use on our property.

There are nicotine alternatives that may be available to our patients, if approved by a patient's physician. Physicians and our YVMC care team will provide tobacco-dependence treatment for patients to assist in nicotine withdrawal during a hospital stay.

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Anyone who wants to quit using tobacco can contact our hospital-based outpatient Nicotine Counseling services at 871-2392 or the Colorado Tobacco Quit Line at 800-QUIT-NOW.

As a health care organization, we appreciate cooperation with this important step toward improved community health. Anyone with questions about this policy change is welcome to contact Lisa Bankard, director of wellness and community education, at 871-2500 for more information.

Karl Gills

Chief Executive Officer, Yampa Valley Medical Center

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