South Lake Hospital has been a nicotine-free campus since 2007 ... no smoking inside, obviously, and no smoking outside ... not in the parking lot ... not in your car.
So the new nicotine testing policy to be enforced beginning this Nov. 1 is something hospital administration sees as the next obvious step. The hospital will now require all employees to take a nicotine test.
Hospital spokeswoman Kim Couch says, "For us, we named our campus the "live well" campus. We're about prevention and health. We feel as leaders in health care in our community we should be examples. It's just the right thing to do to have our employees be healthy, we feel extremely confident in it."
Hospital employee Tamara McLanahan says, "I really think because we are trying to promote that "live well" initiative, that we really promote this and let our community know that we are serious about getting well."
McLanahan is a Community Resources Support Representative for the hospital, and it's affiliated live well center and outpatient surgery centers.
She helps maintain the hospital's smoking cessation course which is available free to all current employees and even to those qualified job candidates that apply for a job after Nov. 1, but are turned down due to a positive nicotine test.
Because those job candidates can re-apply in 180 days according to the new policy, the course could be a game-changer.
Fox 35's Tracy Jacim asks Kim Couch, "Is this primarily about setting a good example, or are insurance costs under consideration too?" Couch replies, "Hopefully healthier employees will have less insurance costs, so that is a benefit; but we really are looking at preventative care: what can we do to make our employees healthy ... and our community as a whole?"
As for concerns that a policy like this could lead to disqualifying potential job applicants due to obesity, alcohol consumption, or eating too many french fries?
Administrators don't see this policy as all that intrusive based on current policies.
Couch says, "In 2007, we became a smoke-free campus ... can't smoke inside or out ... so we really don't have an environment for that anyway."
South Lake Hospital isn't the first hospital to adopt a no smoking policy for new hires, and administrators hope they will not be the last.