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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on April 17, 2007

Joint Press Conference Held to Announce Tobacco-Free Plans

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Myrtle Beach, SC – All Horry and Georgetown county hospitals today announced plans to become Tobacco Free campuses.

Bruce P. Bailey, chairman of South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) and Georgetown Hospital System CEO, made the announcement in a joint news conference held at the Horry-Georgetown Technical College Conference Center in Myrtle Beach. Also attending the event were Philip A. Clayton, CEO of Conway Medical Center, Joan Carroza, spokesperson. Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and Arnold Green, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Loris Healthcare System.

Each hospital is developing an individual policy that will prohibit tobacco use by employees and medical staff, visitors and patients on hospital owned or operated properties. The prohibition will include both interior and exterior spaces.
Timelines for becoming fully tobacco free campuses vary among local hospitals. Georgetown Hospital System’s Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Waccamaw Community Hospital will become tobacco free effective Nov. 15, 2007 -- the date of The Great American Smoke-Out. Conway Medical Center, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and Loris Healthcare System will become tobacco free, effective Jan. 1, 2008.

When fully implemented, the local hospitals will join more than 27 others throughout South Carolina in prohibiting tobacco use by employees, physicians, visitors and patients on hospital property. The South Carolina Hospital Association has encouraged all hospitals in the state to participate in the initiative.

The local hospitals are developing plans and programs to support employees and community members who choose to stop smoking.

In making the announcement, Bailey cited statistics included in a Resolution passed by South Carolina Hospital Association, as contributing to the decision to adopt tobacco free hospitals locally:

· Nearly 6,000 South Carolina adults die each year from smoking-related diseases.
· Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of cancer and many other diseases that cause premature death and suffering.
· Smoking-related health problems cost South Carolina $1.09 billion each year.
· Nearly 57,000 South Carolina high school students and 730,000 adults smoke.
· About 6,500 South Carolina residents younger than 18 begin smoking each year.

“While we recognize that tobacco use is a difficult addiction, the devastating health effects related to tobacco use can not be ignored. Hospitals like those in Horry and Georgetown counties who choose to join our state’s tobacco-free initiative are making significant strides in our ongoing responsibility to care for the health of our communities,” Bailey said. “As providers of healthcare services, this is the right thing to do,” he added.

Phil Clayton, CEO for Conway Medical Center, pointed out that, “Tobacco use is known to cause cancer and contribute to a variety of other devastating health conditions including heart disease, lung disease and more. To permit any activity with such documented and clearly devastating health consequences is in complete opposition to our organization mission. We do understand this will be a major change for many individuals, but we are asking all to recognize the importance of this step as we move forward in our quest to continually bring better health to life.”

Joan Carroza, spokesperson for Grand Strand Regional Medical Center noted, “There are many other industries that have already moved into a smoke-free environment including airlines and most airports, many restaurants, and government buildings. For a hospital this is the right thing to do. It supports our mission of providing a safe and health environment for all, it will improve the health of our employees, patients and visitors, it will reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and it will protect and help to maintain our physical property.”

“Loris Healthcare System is dedicated to improving the health of our communities. By becoming tobacco-free, we are furthering our mission and setting an example of wellness and prevention that is important to the health of our patients, staff and community,” said Arnold Green, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Loris Healthcare System.

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Tidelands Health is the largest health care provider in our region - with three hospitals and more than 50 outpatient locations that stretch from Hemingway to North Myrtle Beach. At Tidelands Health, we are anchored by our mission to help people live better lives through better health.