Prior to the decision, tobacco products had only been prohibited inside the actual hospital; they had been allowed outside, said Jody Brewer of the hospital, who said the decision would “ensure a safe and healthful environment for employees, patients and visitors.” Tobacco has been banned inside all hospitals since the 1980s, Brewer added.
Hospitals in western Kentucky, in conjunction with the Kentucky Hospital Association, made the decision to ban all tobacco products earlier in the year, and Brewer said anyone wanting to use any kind of tobacco products will have to leave the hospital campus to do so.
“We’ve been smoke free for quite a while, as most hospitals are,” said Kevin Hilkey, a paramedic working with Brewer to oversee the course. “They could have been smoking right outside, and people had to go through their smoke whether they wanted to or not.”
The Cooper Clayton Smoking Cessation Program, which lasts for 13 weeks, will begin Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m., and will available for free for anyone who wants to take part. Brewer said that in the past, the hospital has had 10 – 12 people at any time take the course, with a few of those dropping out.
A respiratory therapist who has given the course in the past will be working with the course in January, said Hilkey, who added that the therapist won’t so much be teaching the course as monitoring it and working with those taking it. The course will include ways to quit all types of tobacco, not just cigarettes, he added.
“We hope to have many more than that, though, since we’re really advertising it this year,” said Brewer.
The course will educate people on various methods of nicotine therapy, including patches, gums, and medications, but will also serve as a support group where people will be there for each other, especially if one or more of the participants “falls off the wagon,” Brewer said.
However, the hospital staff don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or force anyone to stop using tobacco that doesn’t want to, but merely want to make the hospital safer for everyone who uses it, according to Brewer.
“We have provided those classes, and we will continue to provide those classes for anybody in our community,” Hilkey said. “They’ve had some pretty good success in the past.”