Even in Ten­nessee …

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Out­liers soon will lose in­ter­est in the topic of hos­pi­tals re­fus­ing to hire those who smoke, chaw or oth­er­wise de­liver a nico­tine buzz. It will be as nor­mal and un-out­lier-ish as the days when it was not un­usual to light up in air­planes, movie the­aters and, come to think of it, hos­pi­tals.

Beginning Feb. 1 Memo­rial Health Care Sys­tem in Chat­tanooga, Tenn., will dis­qual­ify job seek­ers who test pos­i­tive for nico­tine in their sys­tem in a pre-em­ploy­ment screen­ing. Ap­pli­cants who test pos­i­tive may have to wait six months be­fore reap­ply­ing.

Memo­rial, a mem­ber of Den­ver-based Catholic Health Ini­tia­tives, is not the first health­care or­ga­ni­za­tion to take such a step. Just a few weeks ago Out­liers re­ported a sim­i­lar move by Susque­hanna Health in Wil­liamsport, Pa. The Cleve­land Clinic pi­o­neered the idea back in 2007, joined later by Akron (Ohio) Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal and Bap­tist St. An­thony Health Sys­tem in Amar­illo, Texas.

Let us take a mo­ment, how­ever, to ob­serve this cul­tural shift arriving in Ten­nessee, one of the coun­try’s top to­bacco states for cen­turies. Ten­nessee farm­ers still pro­duced 50 mil­lion pounds of to­bacco last year, rank­ing third in the na­tion. Yet that’s about a third of the state’s yield 50 years ago.

Memo­rial Pres­i­dent and CEO James Hob­son says his or­ga­ni­za­tion sees the pol­icy as part of a broader at­tempt to en­gen­der a healthy cul­ture for its em­ploy­ees and the com­mu­nity, akin to its ef­forts to en­cour­age fit­ness and the post­ing of nutri­tion facts in the cafe­te­ria. “We think this is the right thing rel­a­tive to our mis­sion,” Hob­son says.

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