Sentara honored for no-smoking policy

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, May 22, 2010

For its effort to limit exposure the exposure that patients, employees and visitors have to cigarette smoke, Sentara Healthcare has earned the American Cancer Society’s “Excellence in Workplace Tobacco Control” award.

“Live the Mission” is Sentara Healthcare’s slogan for its 100 percent tobacco-free environment initiative. The program, Tobacco Free Environment, bans smoking and prohibits smokeless tobacco products anywhere on campus.

“We are excited to be recognized by the American Cancer Society,” Sentara CEO Dave Bernd said in a new release. “We believe a tobacco-free environment sends the right message to our employees, patients, visitors and vendors. We believe Sentara’s mission, to improve health everyday, is best led by example.”

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Sentara’s program also offers a four-week education and support program titled “Get Off Your Butt! Stay Smokeless for Life!” The program focuses on the needs of each individual in her desire to quit smoking and is open to all Sentara employees, as well as members of the Hampton Roads community.

“Support buddies” are welcomed and encouraged to attend. The classes offer in-depth explanations of nicotine addiction and the most effective ways to break the habit.

Employees who are not able to attend the classes are given a workbook and a self-help compact disc to help guide them through the quitting stages. They are also given nicotine patches at cost, along with nicotine gum and incentives to quit through Mission: Health, Sentara’s health and prevention program.

Employees can continue to engage in services, even after they have completed the program. Additionally, the program is free of charge and is offered multiple times a year, at various locations, to make it easily accessible for all employees.

Alverine Mack, the program coordinator, credits the program’s staff for its success.

“The entire team has done a tremendous job,” she stated in the release. “It’s estimated that about 49,000 people die each year from second-hand smoke. By implementing the TFE program, Sentara is actively trying to improve the health of its campus for all who come here.”