Davis Medical Center commits to new tobacco-free campus policy

ELKINS, W.Va. – Davis Medical Center (DMC) announced plans to implement a new tobacco-free policy. Leaders say the new policy reflects Davis Health System’s (DHS) mission: “Bringing Better Health to Life.”

“We are eliminating tobacco-use on our campus to provide a healthy and safe environment for patients, employees and visitors and to promote positive health behaviors,” said DMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine “Mindy” Chua, DO, FAAFP, FMNM, CPE.

Although the medical center currently has a tobacco-free campus, Dr. Chua says enforcement has been lax in recent years and a “re-commitment” is due.

The new policy bans the use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, and other smoke or vapor producing products such as e-cigarettes within all properties owned or leased by DHS. This includes buildings, grounds, parking lots, ramps, adjacent sidewalks and health system vehicles.

The policy prohibits employees, medical staff, residents, patients, customers, visitors, students, volunteers, vendors, and contracted personnel from using tobacco products on the campus.

Tobacco use is the leading, most preventable cause of disease and death in West Virginia and the United States. Davis Health System is committed to bringing better health to the lives of our community.

“As the regional health system, it’s our obligation to lead by example in modeling good health practices and promoting a tobacco free lifestyle,” Chua added. “Sustaining a tobacco free campus clearly demonstrates our commitment to health and aligns our practices with our Mission.”

The policy will go into effect on March 1, 2020 and hospital leaders will utilize the coming months to prepare employees, patients and the campus for the change.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to on-campus tobacco use when we know that continued use can cause problems for a patient,” said Dr. Chua. “Smoking affects wound healing, increases infection rates in surgeries, and is a cause of poor birth outcomes.”

Three-fourths of tobacco users say they want to quit.

Vance Jackson, FACHE, President and CEO of DHS said Davis Health recognizes the challenges of breaking the addiction and respects an individual’s quitting process. 

“We are not telling anyone, ‘You must quit’,” Jackson said. “We are saying, ‘Don’t use tobacco at our hospital’. While patients are being treated here, we can suggest and offer ways to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. And if a patient says they are ready to quit, we have trained professionals who can help.”

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