PMC moving to be a smoke-free facility

PRESENTATION  —  From the left, Nicki Sullivan, a tobacco specialist from the Pondera County Health Department makes a special presentation on Thursday to Laura Erickson, RN, the director of clinic services and Tiffany Nitz, interim CEO of the PMC for going smoke free on their campus, including all surrounding property.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler





The Pondera Medical Center (PMC) has announced plans to become a tobacco-free and smoke-free campus beginning March 15. 

After that date, no tobacco use of any kind will be permitted – both inside and outside – on all PMC property. 

This policy will apply to patients, visitors, medical staff, employees and all others who either visit or do business on any property owned or leased by PMC. 

“We are taking this step because as a healthcare organization, we are committed to the health and safety of patients, employees, and community,” said Lisa Hanson. R.T., Director of Business Development/Marketing and Diagnostic Services.

She went on to explain, “We have a responsibility to work towards decreasing tobacco use, which is the number one cause of preventable death in our country.”

The PMC is not alone in this endeavor.  It joins more than 46 other health care facilities in Montana that have already implemented or are working on creating a tobacco free medical campus. 

 “A tobacco free campus sends a clear message that tobacco use does not support health and wellness,” said Laura Erickson, RN, Director of Clinical Services.  “Tobacco free policies can help people decide it’s time to quit and get them one step closer to setting a quit date.”

A hot item on the market right now is the ‘electronic cigarette’ which emits an odorless vapor and will give a person a nicotine fix.

Manufactures of the product say it can be used in public, restaurants, bar, and airports.

But don’t use it at the PMC. It falls under the same as smoking a regular cigarette. It is not permitted.

Hanson says, “It is not approved by the FDA and it is a health issue for our patients, employees and visitors.”
People who want to quit smoking or chewing tobacco can call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to talk with a Quit Coach to get them started. You may also contact Nicki Sullivan, 271-3247, a tobacco quit specialist at the Pondera County Health Department.

Callers can find out how to receive Chantix or Bupropion at a reduced cost, or receive free nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum, or lozenges.

The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program is assisting hospitals and medical facilities who are interested in creating a tobacco free campus policy.  The PMC has utilized the planning materials, signage and on-site assistance provided by Clare Lemke RN, the coordinator of the Montana Tobacco Free Medical Campus Project. “This has really taken off in Montana,” said Lemke. “Hospitals are realizing the importance of such policies in helping them achieve their goal of improving health.” 

“By the end of 2012, over 60 percent of Montana hospitals will have instituted a tobacco free campus policy and many more are planning to do so in the coming year,” she added.

Tobacco use kills more people every year than motor vehicle accidents, alcohol, suicide, homicide, AIDS and illegal drugs combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disorders.

“As a healthcare facility, we have the responsibility to set an example for health and wellness in our community,” Tiffany Nitz, the interim CEO of the hospital tells the I-O.

She went on to add, “We want to encourage the healthy lifestyles and create a supportive environment for people who are trying to quit tobacco.”

Editor’s note: For more information on the smoke free policy at the hospital, contact:  Hanson, Pondera Medical Center 271-3495.