Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:55PM - 798 Views

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PDT Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) announced on Monday, starting Nov. 15, they will be screening all external hires for tobacco use.

“We want our patients to feel that they’re in a healthy facility,” said Randy Arnett SOMC President and CEO. “Part of how we can do that is by making sure they’re being cared for by people who have made a serious commitment to good health. It’s important that we, as healthcare professionals, lead by example.”

A report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, titled, “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Healthier Nation, County by County,” ranks Scioto County as one of Ohio’s unhealthiest counties. The annual report, examines every county in the United States and ranks them on a state level based on health outcomes and factors.

Scioto County ranks 87th out of Ohio’s 88 counties for health outcomes and 88th for health factors.

According to www.countyhealthrankings.org, counties are ranked relative to the health of other counties in the same state on the following summary measures:

Health Outcomes — rankings are based on an equal weighting of one length of life (mortality) measure and four quality of life (morbidity) measures. Health Factors — rankings are based on weighted scores of four types of factors: Health behaviors, Clinical care), Social and economic (seven measures) and Physical environment.”

Arnett said, the health rankings that showed Scioto to be one of Ohio’s least healthy counties, factored into the decision to enact this policy.

“The percentage of tobacco users in Scioto County is the highest in the nation per capita,” Arnett said. “That’s a distinction that we, as a responsible healthcare facility, cannot overlook. We will do our part to turn these numbers around by continuing to offer free smoking cessation classes to both employees and the public while discouraging others from taking up this dangerous habit in every way we can.”

According to information released by SOMC, “according to recent data, 36 percent of Scioto County residents smoke or admit to using tobacco related products. Half of all smokers suffer tobacco related deaths, and 19 percent of all deaths in Scioto County have been linked to tobacco use.”

SOMC has been a tobacco-free facility since 2007, and will begin screening new external hires for tobacco use on Nov. 15, the same date as the Great American Smoke Out.

Once this new policy is enacted, SOMC will join Cleveland Clinic and Geisinger Health Systems who have enacted similar policies.

“Our long-term goal is to improve the health of our community and our workforce,” said Vicki Noel, SOMC Vice President of Human Resources in a released statement. “We are constantly changing our processes to make that happen. The reality is that individuals who use tobacco products incur higher medical costs, live shorter lives and are at a higher risk for tobacco related chronic conditions. We want to change that, and we are starting that change by taking a long hard look in the mirror.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.

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