Jennifer Riley, TMH chief of organizational excellence, presented an amended policy to the hospital board Thursday night that eliminates elements staff members found “troublesome,” she said.
Changes included removing a provision that directed staff members to call law enforcement if visitors or patients refused to comply with the policy.
The amended document, which will require board re-approval, also provides employees with nicotine patches, gum and other smoking cessation tools for a limited time after the policy goes into effect July 1.
Smoking and other tobacco use is already prohibited immediately outside hospital facilities, but the policy bans its use from all TMH grounds, including parking lots and sidewalks.
The one exception is The Memorial Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center in Centennial Mall. The hospital leases the space and therefore cannot dictate whether patients or visitors use tobacco in the mall parking lot.
The policy applies to patients and visitors, as well as employees, medical staff, volunteers and vendors.
Patients who don’t comply will be discharged against medical advice, which could be costly.
“If you leave against medical advice, most of the time, your insurance will refuse to pay for your stay,” Riley said.
Tobacco use, along with other health indicators, resurfaced later in the meeting as board members discussed a report compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps placed Moffat County last out of 59 Colorado counties in health behaviors and 50th in overall health. Lisa Brown, chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, presented the report’s results to the Moffat County Commission in April.
Its findings raised concerns for board member John Kinkaid.
“We do live in a free society,” he said. “What do we do?”
David Cecero, Quorum Health Resources regional vice president, recommended partnering with Public Health officials and local schools to encourage healthy eating.
The key, he said, is pinpointing the community’s top health care needs.
Yet Dr. Scott Ellis, the hospital’s chief medical officer, believes finding a solution goes deeper than simply trying to change residents’ habits.
“It’s hard to get people to change their actions without changing their minds,” he said. “And you can’t get somebody to change their mind unless you change their heart.
“Ultimately, that’s where it’s going to have to happen.”