Monday Medical: YVMC proud to be tobacco free |

Monday Medical: YVMC proud to be tobacco free

Lisa A. Bankard

Yampa Valley Medical Center rang in the new year with a new, tobacco-free policy on its campus.

As of Jan. 1, smoking and tobacco use is prohibited everywhere at YVMC and on property surrounding the hospital, Doak Walker Care Center, GrandKids Child Care Center and the Medical Office Building.

Forty-five hospitals across the state, as well as more than 600 hospitals nationwide, have established similar policies. The Memorial Hospital in Craig will take the final step in implementing its new tobacco-free policy Jan. 20.

"As a health care provider, YVMC is committed to promoting and protecting health," Chief Executive Officer Karl Gills said. "By eliminating tobacco use on our property and collaborating with the tenants of the Medical Office Building, we seek to encourage positive health behaviors."

The new policy bans the use of all tobacco products — including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco — within the entire campus, parking lots and property. This includes hospital vehicles and employees' or visitors' personal vehicles parked on the premises.

The tobacco ban will apply to all patients, visitors, medical staff members, vendors, volunteers and employees — in other words, everyone who is on the campus.

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It has been more than 45 years since the U.S. Surgeon General's office declared, in 1964, that smoking is hazardous to health. Yet smoking remains the nation's No. 1 cause of preventable death and disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research shows that tobacco use can cause problems for hospitalized patients, such as slowing wound healing and increasing infection rates following surgeries. It also is the most common cause of poor birth outcomes.

"YVMC is not asking patients to stop using tobacco, but we will require them to refrain from its use while on our campus," Gills explained.

Patients who insist on leaving the campus to use tobacco must check out of the hospital against medical advice. They can be re-admitted through YVMC's standard admitting process.

Patient treatment protocols will include tobacco-dependence treatment to assist patients during a hospital stay. If a patient or employee chooses, YVMC will assist him or her to begin the process of quitting tobacco use. YVMC encourages patients to discuss tobacco cessation options with their health care providers in order to select the most appropriate treatment option.

YVMC provides a nicotine counseling program through our respiratory care department. Visit the Web site at for more information about this outpatient service, or call 871-2392 to schedule an appointment.

The Colorado Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT NOW, is another option for those who wish to stop. The Web site, which is sponsored by the CDC and numerous other public health agencies, is a valuable resource that features an excellent quit guide.

The good news is that it's never too late to quit tobacco use. As soon as a person stops smoking, his or her lungs, heart and circulatory system — the arteries and veins that blood flows through — start getting better.

Within 20 minutes after smoking that last cigarette, the body begins a series of positive changes that continue for years.

Even those who have smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years can cut their risk of coronary heart disease in half within one year after quitting.

As a health care organization, YVMC has a responsibility to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles throughout our community. The hospital appreciates your support as it implements the new tobacco-free policy. And YVMC wishes everyone a happy, healthy new year.

Lisa A. Bankard is director of Wellness and Community Education at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at