WellSpan Health announces tobacco-free hiring for new employees
Effective Jan. 1, 2015, WellSpan Health will no longer hire new employees who use tobacco or nicotine products, the regional healthcare system announced today.
The new policy is part of WellSpan’s continuing efforts to foster lifelong wellness and healthy communities, according to Robert Batory, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for WellSpan Health.
“From 1991, when our hospitals banned smoking indoors, to 2006 when we made all of our campuses tobacco-free, and now moving to tobacco-free hiring, WellSpan has continued to build on its commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles and a healthy workplace,” Batory said. “This is yet another step in WellSpan’s journey to reduce the detrimental impacts of tobacco use in our community.”
Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States.
The 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment showed that more than one in five adults in York and Adams counties identified themselves as regular smokers, while 13 percent of adults in Lancaster County are regular smokers. That statistic does not include minors who use tobacco, nor adults who use smokeless or other forms of tobacco.
“Our goal is to promote tobacco-free living and to create a healthier and more pleasant environment for those who visit or receive care at a WellSpan facility,” Batory said.
Batory noted that this is not a new policy for WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, which became part of WellSpan Health in October 2013. WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital has had a tobacco-free hiring policy in place since July 2011.
“As WellSpan and Ephrata Community Hospital continue their integration efforts, the WellSpan Health Board of Directors viewed this as an opportunity to examine Ephrata’s tobacco-free hiring policy and extend the benefits of that policy to patients, employees and visitors throughout the rest of our health system,” Batory said.
Under the new policy, all applicants, who are offered a position with WellSpan, will be tested for tobacco and nicotine use as part of their post-offer, pre-placement health screening. Those who test positive for tobacco and nicotine use will not be hired. If an applicant tests positive, he or she may re-apply for a position after 12 months, provided the individual has ceased using tobacco or nicotine products.
If an individual tests positive for nicotine because of authorized tobacco cessation efforts, such as nicotine gum or a nicotine patch, it will not impact that applicant’s offer of employment, Batory said. This is in keeping with WellSpan’s tobacco cessation programs and counselors, which are aimed at helping individuals lead tobacco-free lives.
While WellSpan’s new policy takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, applicants who accepted an active offer of employment from WellSpan Health prior to Aug. 1, 2014 will be exempted.
Other health systems throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania with tobacco-free hiring policies include: University of Pennsylvania Health System, Lancaster General Health, Geisinger Health System, Susquehanna Health and St. Luke’s University Health Network.