December 12th, 2006

Great River Health Systems will implement a tobacco-free policy effective Wednesday, April 4, 2007. This policy prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco on all Great River Health Systems property, both indoors and outdoors, including inside personally owned vehicles. The policy applies to everyone—employees, patients, physicians, students, visitors, volunteers—who is on health system property for any reason.

“We began to take a closer look at our tobacco-use policy last summer shortly after the Iowa Hospital Association recommended that all Iowa hospitals make the transition to becoming tobacco-free campuses,” said health system President and CEO Mark Richardson. “As a leader in the health-care community, it is important for Great River Health Systems to proactively encourage a tobacco-free environment in recognition of the obvious health threats posed by tobacco use.”

Besides Great River Medical Center, other health system property covered by the policy includes:

• All of the hospital’s West Burlington campus grounds and facilities (Burlington Area Family Practice Center, Eastman Plaza, Great River Cancer Care Center, Great River Center for Rehabilitation, Great River Regional Laundry, Kidzone Child Care Center, Mercy Plaza and Southeastern Renal Dialysis Center)
• Heritage Medical Equipment and Supplies, Roosevelt Ave., Burlington
• Klein Center, Madison Ave., Burlington
• Primary-care clinics in Mediapolis, Morning Sun, Wapello and West Point

Tobacco use is a major preventable factor in the development of heart disease, lung disease and cancer. According to the Surgeon General, about 430,000 Americans die each year from tobacco use, and secondhand smoke contributes to more than 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. In addition, a recent workplace survey by the American Productivity Audits found that tobacco use is a greater cause of lost work time than alcohol abuse or family emergencies.