Monday, January 25, 2010

Innovation in the South (?)

In a gutsy move, a Tennessee hospital (Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga) has created a new policy wherein they will not hire anyone who smokes. (Nice idea on paper, let's see how they work it...) Stating that the hospital and it's employees should be more health oriented, the policy has made national headlines. Now the interesting part of this policy (for me anyway) is that it will include periodic testing for nicotine in their employees system. They have even gone so far as to say that they will not allow anyone to be employed at the hospital and use any 'quit smoking' system which includes nicotine (like the patch, or the gum) and the periodic testing would prove this out.

This new policy has garnered more than a few comments, most of them on the bad side. One major employer called it 'ground breaking' and another called it 'bold' where most of the individuals I've talked to have called it ...well I can't repeat most of that, let's just say that the heredity of the administrators has been compared to sheep and possibly bovine excrement. It would seem that most of these commentators didn't think that the hospital administrators thought this through enough. I mean, let's suppose that the hospital now has more than a few employees who smoke. Your new policy says that they must stop smoking. Ok, so how do you do that? Most Doctors I've talked to have said that quitting cold turkey is bad for the system, and recommend something such as the patch, the gum or a slow step-down-to-nothing sort of program. But this new policy doesn't allow for those current employees to take that initiative to quit smoking properly. It says you cannot have nicotine in your system at all, at any time, period, thank you for playing our game have a nice day.

Ok, so I can understand the push for more healthy employees, but at the same time not allowing those current employees an avenue to quit properly is like saying "We don't want you here". Let's go further and ask how you can exclude smokers for health reasons and not exclude people who are obese, or people who don't eat nutritious food, (or do other things which can endanger one's health, etc) thus excluding people based on behavior in their own homes. What's next? Excluding employees who don't watch the right TV shows, or read the right books, think the right way....or maybe, since Memorial Hospital is in fact run by a religious order, they will use religious beliefs to cull their employee roster.

As one friend of mine said, "This has been tried once Germany..and it didn't work out so well there either as I recall." I'm not going to go into a huge dissertation on the subject, I think the pundits have done a fine job by themselves.

I usually expect better from my Suthun neighbors. I bet some Nawthunuh snuck in there and started this ruckus. Yeah, I bet that's what it is.

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