NEW ORLEANS – On April 1st, Ochsner Health System marks the one year anniversary of becoming completely tobacco free. The goal was to ensure that Ochsner patients and employees have the most healing, safe environment possible. And in just one year, more than 10,000 Ochsner employees have confirmed they do not use tobacco products.
“As a healthcare organization, it is our responsibility to lead by example on issues that affect public health,” says Dr. Patrick J. Quinlan, CEO of Ochsner Health System. “I am extremely proud of our employees who have taken steps to eliminate tobacco from their lives.”
In the past year, Ochsner implemented several resources to educate and assist smokers in quitting, including moving all prescription smoking cessation drugs to the lowest tier of deductible under the employee medical plan. In addition, employees who pledge they are tobacco free receive a monthly rebate on their health insurance.
Ochsner also was one of four recipients of the 2012 Tobacco-Free Health Care Project grant given by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Tobacco Control Program and its partner, the Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center of Lafayette. The $150,000 grant provides funds to health care facilities committed to using research-based strategies for tobacco prevention, control and awareness, empowering citizens to make healthy lifestyle choices and reduce tobacco use.
Ochsner is currently developing innovative age-appropriate curriculums for youth to prevent initiation of tobacco users to be introduced to area schools this fall. In May, Ochsner will support World No Tobacco Day by assisting the Tangipahoa Parish community develop a policy for tobacco-free public schools and campuses.
The health system also continually updates its website dedicated to tobacco-free resources and support tools: ochsner.org/live. The site is filled with smoking cessation resources, the latest in protocols and information about tobacco-free living, recent news and opportunities to interact with and support others who are also in the process of quitting.
“This year alone, 6,500 Louisianans will die from their own smoking,” said Dr. Joseph Bisordi, Chief Medical Officer, Ochsner Health System. “Almost 1,000 more nonsmokers will die from exposure to secondhand smoke. Twenty times that many will die from smoking-related diseases. And still, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.”
Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and over 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 16 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across seven specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 13,000 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.