Clearwater, Fla. — BayCare Health System, a community-based healthcare system in the Tampa Bay area, will be tobacco-free starting in January 2011. Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, Morton Plant, St. Anthony's, St. Joseph's, St. Joseph's Women's, St. Joseph's Children's and South Florida Baptist hospitals will all join Morton Plant North Bay and St. Joseph's Hospital-North in becoming tobacco-free.
All BayCare non-hospital facilities such as BayCare HomeCare, BayCare Behavioral Health and BayCare Outpatient and Imaging Centers will also be tobacco-free.
BayCare has chosen to be tobacco-free in an effort to promote a healthy and safe environment for everyone who works at or visits the organization's facilities. Smoking and/or tobacco use will not be allowed on any part of BayCare's campuses by team members, physicians, patients, volunteers, visitors or vendors.
"By choosing to be tobacco-free, we are working to create a healthier environment for our team members and our entire community," said Steve Mason, BayCare Health System president and CEO. "This is an important initiative that reflects our efforts to be both an excellent place to work and to receive health care."
To prepare for going tobacco-free, BayCare launched a campaign to provide tools and assistance for coping in a tobacco-free environment. A comprehensive communications plan will help address the concerns of team members, patients, physicians, visitors, volunteers, vendors and the community. In addition, signage at all facilities is being updated to reflect the shift to tobacco-free.
BayCare team members who were tobacco-free before completing benefits open enrollment also will receive a discount on their 2011 medical plan premiums.
"We are here to care for the health of all we serve, so establishing tobacco-free campuses allows us to lead by example and demonstrate good health practices for our community," said Mark Vaaler, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs for St. Joseph's and South Florida Baptist Hospitals. "Our patients expect us to provide them with a healthy environment so by eliminating tobacco from our campuses, we are able to offer a more comfortable healing environment."
BayCare facilities offer "Freedom from Smoking" classes for the public for a nominal fee and to its team members at no cost. Anyone interested in learning more about the classes can call (727) 253-4228.