South Lake Hospital in Flager County, FL has been a nicotine-free campus since 2007. No smoking inside, obviously, and no smoking outside. Not in the parking lot, or even in your car. But now there's a new hiring policy that may disqualify smokers. A new nicotine testing policy to be enforced beginning November 1st is something hospital administration sees as the next obvious step.
"For us...we named our campus the "live well" campus, we're about prevention and health, we feel as leaders in health care in our community we should be examples. it's just the right thing to do to have our employees be healthy...we feel extremely confident in it," said Kim Couch, a spokeswoman for South Lake hospital.
Tamara Mclanahan is a community resources support representative for the hospital and its affiliated live well center and outpatient surgery centers. "I really think because we are trying to promote that "live well" initiative, that we really promote this and let our community know that we are serious about getting well," she says.
Mclanahan helps maintain the hospital's smoking cessation course which is available free to all current employees and even to those qualified job candidates that apply for a job come November 1st and onward, but are turned down due to a positive nicotine test. Those job candidates can re-apply in 180 days according to the new policy.
"Hopefully healthier employees will have less insurance costs, so that is a benefit...but we really are looking at preventative care," says Couch.
As for concerns that a policy like this could lead to disqualifying potential job applicants due to obesity, alcohol consumption, or eating too many french fries? Administrators don't see this policy as all that intrusive based on current policies.
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