- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

WINFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - A hospital administrator has asked the Putnam County Development Authority to buy two small areas outside the facility so people can continue to smoke there.

Randy Hodges of CAMC Teays Valley Hospital acknowledged that the deal would amount to a loophole in an accreditation company’s mandate that the hospital move toward becoming a “smoke-free campus.” The accreditation company, DNV GL Healthcare, determines whether the hospital can serve Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Hodges wants to sell the hospital’s two small outdoor smoking areas - one near the emergency room, the other near a loading dock - to the development authority for $1 so they won’t officially be part of the medical campus. The hospital would continue to maintain the areas, which Hodges said amount to about 30 to 50 square feet, and retain liability for them.

Hodges told the Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1wNwMXr ) and the development authority’s board that hospital visitors are typically under stress and are going to smoke. But he said there are no publicly owned sidewalks or other safe places to light up outside, and he doesn’t want smokers to venture onto a busy road or go to neighboring businesses.

“We’re trying to think out of the box,” said Hodges, adding that he had not yet talked to the accreditation company about his idea.

“I don’t know that really supports going tobacco-free,” DNV GL Healthcare CEO Patrick Horine said when asked about Hodges’ proposal. “That supports what is our campus and what’s not our campus.”

The development authority board decided to appoint a committee to study questions about the proposal, including whether the agency’s bylaws will allow the purchase and how much liability the hospital could really continue to assume after the sale. Drew Dunlap, the development authority’s executive director, said a report should be ready by November’s meeting.

Hodges told the Gazette that the hospital makes “every effort” to get patients to stop smoking, including through cessation classes, but that it can’t force people to not smoke.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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