Orlando Health Implements Tobacco-Free Hiring

Article ID: 599782

Released: 1-Mar-2013 6:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Orlando Health

New rule applies to users of all tobacco products

Newswise — Orlando, FL (March 1, 2013) – Effective April 1, 2013 Orlando Health will implement a tobacco-free hiring rule. The new rule is an expansion of the organization’s current drug and alcohol use policy and applies to all forms of tobacco use. It will require all individuals who receive a job offer from Orlando Health to be screened for cotinine, a by-product of nicotine, as part of the regular drug screening process. The level of cotinine present in the body can determine whether an individual is a primary tobacco user or is being exposed to tobacco through other means, such as second-hand smoke.

“Our new tobacco-free hiring rule reinforces our culture of prevention and wellness for team members, patients, and the central Florida community,” said Christy Pearson, COO Human Resources, Orlando Health. “It is our way of leading by example and serving as a community role model for good health behaviors.”

The tobacco-free hiring rule applies to new hires at all facilities and hospitals on or around Orlando Health’s downtown campus including Orlando Regional Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, as well as the Howard Phillips Center, all Corporate Departments, Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, South Seminole Hospital, and Health Central Hospital.

The new rule will not apply to volunteers, students, contractors, residents offered slots prior to April 1, or existing team members, who are being grandfathered in under a tobacco-free policy implemented in 2008. Under that policy, individuals are prohibited from using tobacco products at any time during their shift regardless if they leave property for lunch or breaks. It also prohibits tobacco use in any company vehicle or on Orlando Health campuses. Team members who use tobacco products are encouraged to quit and are provided with tools and incentives to make quitting easier, including access to a smoking cessation course, support programs, and monetary support for smoking cessation medication.

“We think it’s our responsibility, as healthcare providers, to help improve local population health by promoting the cessation of all tobacco products,” added Pearson. “Our goal with both these efforts is not to exclude anyone who is qualified and interested in pursuing a career with Orlando Health. It is to promote and encourage the cessation of all tobacco use.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion each year; $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures. Smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually in the U.S., about 443,000 deaths per year with an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths the result of secondhand smoke exposure.

Under Orlando Health’s new tobacco-free hiring rule, offers of employment will be rescinded for individuals who test positive for “primary user” levels of cotinine. Applicants who fail the cotinine test may re-apply after 180 days.

“As one of the area’s largest employers, we hope our new rule will encourage other employers to make changes within their own companies that can improve employees’ health and reduce healthcare expenditures,” said Pearson.

In addition to the tobacco-free efforts, Orlando Health promotes team member health and wellness through Healthy U, an initiative that provides nutrition, exercise, life-balance, and immunization guidance and assistance for team members. Healthy U offerings include gym membership fee reimbursements, daily wellness menu combinations in Orlando Health cafeterias, an alliance with Weight Watchers, and biometric screenings.

About Orlando Health

Orlando Health is a $1.9 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals and care centers throughout Central Florida. Physician Associates, one of the largest multi-specialty practices in central Florida, consisting of more than 90 physicians in more than 20 locations, became a member of the Orlando Health family in January, 2013.

The organization, which includes the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. They are: Orlando Regional Medical Center; Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children; Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; Dr. P. Phillips Hospital; South Seminole Hospital; Health Central Hospital, South Lake Hospital (50 percent affiliation); St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (20 percent affiliation) and MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando – the first affiliate of one of the nation’s premier cancer centers, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Orlando Health’s areas of clinical excellence are heart and vascular, cancer care, neurosciences, surgery, pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatology, and women’s health.

Orlando Health is one of Central Florida’s largest employers with nearly 16,000 employees and more than 2,500 affiliated physicians supporting our philosophy of providing high quality care and service that revolves around patients’ needs. We prove this everyday with over 110,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 690,000 outpatient visits each year. In all, Orlando Health serves 1.6 million Central Florida residents and nearly 3,000 international patients annually. Additionally, Orlando Health provides approximately $239 million in support of community health needs. More information can be found at www.orlandohealth.com.

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