VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
VA Northeast Ohio Goes Smoke Free
To improve overall health and wellness of our Veterans, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System is moving forward with a Smoke-Free Policy for inpatients, to include long-term residents at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center effective February 1, 2019.
Smoking is inconsistent with VA’s health promotion and disease prevention mission, and VA wants to protect patients, employees, volunteers, and visitors from this known health hazard by strictly enforcing the smoking policy. Inpatients will not be permitted to smoke during the duration of their stay at the medical center.
“For many decades there’s been a plethora of scientific evidence attesting to the hazardous health effects of smoke including on the primary smoker as well as secondhand smoke,” said Innette Sarduy, VANEOHS Associate Director Patient Care, Services, Nurse Executive/ Chief Nursing Officer. “VHA’s position on this is we are a healthcare organization and we’re here to protect the health of not only our patients, but also our employees, our visitors, and volunteers.”
VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System’s team is dedicated to taking care of Veterans’ medical and emotional needs through treating the whole Veteran. Smoking is counterintuitive to the VA mission of caring for those who have born the battle and is not in line with core values of providing the best patient care for Veterans.
The smoking restrictions apply to cigarettes of any type, cigars, pipes, and non-FDA approved electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which includes e-cigarettes, vaporizers/vapes and smokeless tobaccos. However, for outpatient Veterans and visitors, there are two designated smoking shelters on the property.
“The purpose of going smoke-free is to protect their health, which benefits the patient,” Sarduy said. “Nicotine is a powerful vasoconstrictor. We have a lot of patients with diabetes and vascular problems and all the nicotine in any form whether it’s cigarettes, chew, or vape or any of those things has a negative effect on their health. We are hoping to assist in minimizing that effect while they’re inpatients.”
To ease the transition during the Veteran’s stay, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System will provide different smoking cessation programs and techniques such as nicotine replacement products and help if the patients would like to quit. VA employees and volunteers will also be prohibited from escorting patients to smoking areas, in accordance with their right to protect their own health by diminishing the risk of second-hand smoke.
“Employees can help with the transition by assisting patients to understand why we’re doing this and offering alternatives,” said Sarduy. “We can offer every patient who smokes assistance with quitting or we can make them comfortable during their short time here by offering them some nicotine replacements so they don’t suffer from any effects of withdraw during the time seeking treatment.”
As VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System moves forward with the smoke-free policy, we encourage all Veterans, employees, volunteers, and visitors to promote the smoke-free environment and direct individuals who choose to use tobacco to the designated smoke shelters. If you are considering quitting smoking, please call 216-231-3399 for helpful resources and support.