West Boca Becomes Smoke-Free Campus 
Monday, 12 May 2008 
BOCA RATON, FL -- West Boca Medical Center (WBMC) announced it will ban smoking from its campus effective May 12.  No smoking will be permitted on any part of the premises, including smoking inside vehicles.  

"After months of preparation for this date, we are officially designated as a smoke-free hospital," said Ruth Schwarzkopf, chief nursing officer at West Boca Medical Center.  "The good health and well being of our community is our utmost concern, and we are excited to promote West Boca Medical Center as a place of healing.  Even the effects of secondhand smoke are harmful and we are happy to provide a healthy environment for our patients, visitors, employees and medical staff."

The WBMC Governing Board, Medical Executive Committee and a Smoking Cessation Committee were integral in the planning and execution of this initiative. "The Surgeon General has shown that people who work in a smoke-free environment tend to have a fewer number of sick days and tend to have fewer number of respiratory diseases," said Dr. Mark Adelman, head of the respiratory department and chairman of the governing board at West Boca Medical Center.

Those who do smoke and work in a smoke-free environment tend to smoke less and many are encouraged to stop smoking all together.  "At West Boca Medical Center, our number one goal is to improve the health status of not only our patients, but our employees, physicians, visitors and the surrounding community," said Walt Mickens, CEO of WBMC. 

"We want to make quitting an obtainable goal to achieve. Of course we would like to make it as easy as possible so we are prepared to offer the tools and support needed. Protecting our visitors from harmful secondhand smoke is also a key factor to this initiative."

Secondhand smoke is classified as a "known human carcinogen" (cancer causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization. 

Secondhand smoke can be harmful in many ways according to the 2006 Surgeon General's report which reached several important conclusions: Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.  Secondhand smoke immediately affects the heart and blood circulation in a harmful way and contributes to heart disease and lung cancer.

There is no "safe" level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and acute respiratory infections   In addition, according to the American Cancer Society, in the United States alone, secondhand smoke is responsible for 35,000 annual deaths from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers, and about 3,400 annual lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults.

"In order to help our employees take the first step to a smoke free lifestyle, we are providing them with six weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)," said Cathy McCulloch, employee health R.N.  "Employees are able to choose patches or gum.  We know choosing to quit is difficult," said McCulloch, "and it is important we continue to offer our support."

NRT works by relieving nicotine withdrawal symptoms so that the focal point is on the psychological aspect of quitting. Studies have shown that chances of successfully quitting are doubled when nicotine replacement therapy is paired with behavioral changes.  "Smoking impacts the image of the hospital as a healthy environment," said Adelman.

About West Boca Medical Center:

West Boca Medical Center, part of Tenet South Florida, is a 185-bed acute care hospital located at 21644 State Road 7 in Boca Raton, Florida. The hospital has been serving the medical and health care needs of the community and surrounding areas for over 20 years.

West Boca Medical Center offers a broad array of services, including general medical and surgical care, cardiac and surgical intensive care, outpatient surgery services, 24-hour emergency services for adults and children, diabetes education, a cystic fibrosis program for adults and children, outpatient rehabilitation services and a sleep diagnostic center.

The hospital also offers several specialties, including a level III neonatal intensive care unit, the BirthCare Pavilion, a pediatric unit and a pediatric intensive care unit.  It is also a recipient of the HealthGrades Maternity Care Excellence Award two years in a row (2006/2007 and 2007/2008). HealthGrades ranks West Boca's maternity program among the top 5% five percent in the nation. 

West Boca Medical Center is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on the accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the nation's oldest and largest hospital accreditation agency.  For more information about West Boca Medical Center or for physician referral, call 866-904-WBMC (9262).