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Hospital Will Not Hire Those Who Use Tobacco Products

Administrators at a hospital in Searcy say you can't light up and work for them. Effective October 1, the White County Medical Center will not hire people who smoke or use tobacco products. Current employees will be grandfathered in under the new policy.

This change is in an effort for all employees to adopt a more healthy lifestyle. Not only is tobacco products not allowed, but cafeteria menu items are also changing.

Brenda Engle, the Director of Health Works at WCMC says by doing this, they are hoping to address the two biggest issues, smoking, and obesity. "As a health care facility we believe this is the right thing for us to do for our employees"

She along with other administrators have been working to make the atmosphere around the hospital a healthier one. About 200 employees use tobacco.

"For me I'm allergic to smoke, and it bothers me when I'm near someone who smokes. I can't be around them. so it's going to be positive change for me. I know for some it will be negative but we're trying to embrace it and it's all for a healthy change for our hospital", says Cassandra Feltrop, Executive Director of the hospital Foundation.

The hospital already conducts random drug testing on their associates. After October 1, a nicotine screening will be added. So if a new hire uses tobacco in the privacy of their own home or is using a patch or gum to kick the habit and tests positively, Feltrop says they will lose their job. "They will be terminated. After that date, the policy states they will be terminated from the hospital. We will no longer hire smoking associates."

The cafeteria is being revamped too. Fresh, new, healthier food choices will be offered including a fruit bar. All in an effort to help their employees live a more healthier lifestyle.

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