Centura Health - St. Catherine to become tobacco-free campus

(GARDEN CITY, KAN.) With the last of the smoke shacks soon to be removed and signs going up reminding associates, patients and visitors of the impending change, Centura Health - St. Catherine Hospital is set to become a tobacco-free campus on November 21.

While the hospital has long prohibited smoking inside its buildings, it has been moving toward being a completely smoke- and tobacco-free workplace. On the 21st, coinciding with the national Great American Smokeout event, the hospital and all Centura Health-owned and St. Catherine-managed properties in Garden City and Dodge City will become tobacco-free.

In doing so, St. Catherine will be joining a majority of hospitals in Kansas that are tobacco-free, including Centura Health - Bob Wilson Memorial Hospital in Ulysses.

According to the statement of policy, “Centura is committed to promoting and providing a healthy and safe environment for patients, families, visitors, and associates. Recognizing that smoking and tobacco use-related illnesses are preventable, it is our responsibility to take a leadership role to reduce and encourage cessation of smoking and tobacco use.”

St. Catherine’s policy applies to all Centura-owned properties in Garden City and Dodge City and would prohibit all associates, physicians, contractors, volunteers, students, interns, residents, vendors, sales representatives, patients and visitors from smoking or using tobacco products in the facilities or anywhere on facility grounds.

Prohibited tobacco products will include, but not be limited to, the use of pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, cigarettes, marijuana, e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers.

The premises that will fall under the policy will include Centura-owned or leased facilities – to include Plaza Medical Center, Heartland Cancer Center, Siena Medical Clinic, and Convenient Care Clinic in Garden City and Dodge City Medical Center - offices, grounds, parking lots/ramps, company owned vehicles, sidewalks and surrounding areas.

The goals of the policy are to create a healthier environment for everyone who works in or visits the hospital and clinic campuses by eliminating second-hand smoke, demonstrate a commitment to improving the health of the entire community and to set an example for other organizations and businesses to follow.

On the day the new policy will be implemented, St. Catherine will be removing the last remaining smoke shack – covered locations that have been designated for tobacco use - on campus.

“It only makes sense that St. Catherine Hospital is in the forefront to demonstrate that,” said Donna Gerstner, Chronic Disease Risk Reduction coordinator for LiveWell Finney County who has helped spearhead tobacco and smoking cessation initiatives in the community. “To me, by them taking this step, it shows the rest of the community that ‘Hey, if they’re doing it, we should be doing it.”

The benefits of the policy are many, Gerstner said. By prohibiting the use of tobacco products on Centura grounds, it not only limits exposure to second-hand smoke, but third-hand smoke, as well. Reducing the amount of litter on Centura property caused by tobacco products is also a benefit, she said.

“A lot of people aren’t very familiar with third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is where even though there’s no smoking around, smoke, tobacco, vaping all leave a residue. And in that residue are chemicals that are cancer causing,” Gerstner said. “That’s why it’s very important to make that happen here – less chance of exposure for folks that maybe already are having health issues, reducing the chance of exacerbating that with second- and third-hand smoke.

The move also will help encourage some people to quit smoking, whether they are Centura associates or frequent patients or visitors, Gerstner said. Centura already has a policy that it will not hire tobacco users as all employment offers are contingent on the satisfactory completion of a drug and health screening that prohibits the use of tobacco products.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as of 2017, 14% of adults in Finney County smoke, compared to 17.4% in Kansas. KDHE states that tobacco is the cause of death for more than 4,400 Kansans every year and is the root cause of many illnesses and lost productivity, and tobacco use in Kansas accounts for more than $1.12 billion in health care costs each year.

St. Catherine will provide support to associates, visitors and patients who wish to stop using tobacco products through education and tobacco cessation programs, such as KanQuit, the Kansas Tobacco Quitline that offers online cessation counseling by live chat and email. KanQuit is online at KSQuit.org and can be reached at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).

“The thing about St. Catherine Hospital, they’re like the third-largest employer here in Finney County,” Gerstner said. “By making this campus tobacco-free, hopefully there’ll be some people that quit (smoking), and that alone is going to be huge. … If we can get some of those folks that have been smoking that work here to quit, we’ll reduce the amount of third-hand smoke exposure to patients.”

According to the Kansas Hospital Association, some of the other hospitals in western Kansas that already are tobacco-free include: Lane County Hospital, Dighton; Goodland Regional Medical Center, Goodland; Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, Greensburg; Hays Medical Center, Hays; Stevens County Hospital, Hugoton; Kearny County Hospital, Lakin; Minneola District Hospital, Minneola; Logan County Hospital, Oakley; Pratt Regional Medical Center, Pratt; Scott County Hospital, Scott City.


About Centura Health
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 17 hospitals, two senior living communities, health neighborhoods, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life® Colorado, we are making the region’s best health care accessible and affordable in every community we serve. We believe you can inspire the people you care about to live healthier lives by encouraging them to do the little things that can make a big difference. We’re Centura Health, and we’re here for your health. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit Centura Health website.

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