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Voices in Healthcare

MHA's New Year's Resolution: A New Initiative to Help Hospitals Go Tobacco-Free

I'm delighted to be kicking off 2011 with the launch of a terrific new initiative to promote public health and healing at our member hospitals - it's called Healing Inside and Out: Massachusetts Tobacco-Free Hospitals. This new effort will assist hospitals in the Commonwealth to become tobacco-free and improve the health of their patients, visitors and staff. "Tobacco free" means that use of tobacco products of any kind is completely prohibited everywhere on a hospital campus, including parking lots and garages. The ban applies not only to hospital employees, but to patients and visitors as well.

Hospitals are stewards of the public health and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in our country.  This voluntary initiative was developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is a terrific step forward in this vital wellness area.

Healing Inside and Out was unveiled on Jan. 5, 2011at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network's Cambridge location, which recently joined the system's three other hospitals and 23 outpatient centers to become tobacco-free. DPH Commissioner John Auerbach and David Storto, President of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, were gracious enough to join us for the kick-off event, and I'm extremely grateful for their support.
We've developed a logo for the initiative, which combines the traditional hospital "H" sign with visual elements of clean air and greenery, embodying the concept of hospitals as places that promote healing and provide a healthy environment.  I think it makes a great statement!

MHA has also established a dedicated section of our website as part of our tobacco-free hospitals effort. The site provides a one-stop, on-line resource and support center for hospitals to get the information they need to voluntarily take this important step forward.
The web pages include a wealth of useful information such as implementation how-to's, statistics, best practices, case studies, and valuable web links. The new site also features:

  • a video announcing the effort
  • a description of the seven steps hospitals can take to become tobacco-free
  • a pie chart that shows the percentage of Massachusetts' 116 hospitals that have undertaken or completed each step, and
  • success stories from hospitals that have already made the journey to becoming tobacco-free.

Finally, the new website includes an Honor Roll of hospitals in Massachusetts that have successfully gone tobacco-free. There are currently 39 hospitals on the list, and we look forward to adding more. Going tobacco free takes time and effort.  Hopefully this time next year, that number will increase as we continue to make progress against one of the nation's top health issues.