No smoking clears air at area hospital

Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 20, 2015

We applaud St. Charles Parish Hospital for its decision to go smoke free April 1.

According to information released by parish officials, the hospital is joining other Ochsner Health System facilities throughout the area “in an effort to become tobacco-free by no longer providing designated smoking areas or ashtrays.”

Located in Luling, St. Charles Parish Hospital is a not-for-profit, 59-bed acute care facility that has operated since 1959.

With more than 50 years of service to the River Parishes and beyond, taking this smoke-free approach is an obvious and necessary step for any facility that bills the health of those it serves as its No. 1 priority. That goes for employees, as well.

Hospital officials said, Dr. Alton Ochsner, one of Ochsner’s founders, discovered the link between tobacco use and lung cancer in 1939, dedicating the rest of his life to educating the world on the dangerous effects of smoking.

“Our mission calls for us to improve the health of the individuals and communities we serve,” hospital CEO Federico Martinez Jr. said this week. “We have a responsibility to take a leadership role on this major health issue and to promote a healthier environment. By prohibiting tobacco use at and around our facilities, we are not only living that legacy but also ensuring that our patients have the most healing, safe environment possible.”

Doctors, nurses, administrators and hospital staffers are community role models in the world of health, and the example they display helps set the tone for a surrounding neighborhood’s awareness.

Research has shown smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body and accounts for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths, officials said. In addition, 75 percent of the disease in the United States is due to lifestyle choices.

Thank you St. Charles Parish Hospital and, more importantly, the people who work there for undertaking this challenge.

Hospital leaders acknowledge quitting smoking is no easy endeavor and stressed a plan will be put into place to help employees interested in quitting smoking.