, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2013

P.M. UPDATE: EASTAR to go completely tobacco-free March 1

— EASTAR Health System announced it will be converting to a tobacco-free system on March 1. The health system’s East campus (formerly Muskogee Community Hospital), located at 2900 N. Main St., had previously been a smoke-free facility. This new policy prohibits all forms of tobacco on all system property.

“This has been a goal of the medical staff for a long time, and I am glad we are moving forward with this. It will certainly create a much healthier environment for our patients as well as those of us who care for those patients”  Jay Gregory, MD, System Chief Medical Officer, said in a media release. “It won’t be an easy transition, but with a substance as addictive as tobacco, no one expects it to be easy. But it’s necessary if we want to help people better manage their health."

Staff will be on hand to remind visitors and vendors of the new policy. Dwayne Atwell, MD, president of the EASTAR medical staff, said patient education will be taken care of primarily though the physicians.

“The conversation with a patient about quitting tobacco use needs to also happen at the physician level,” Atwell said in the release. “And sometimes that’s a tough conversation. Part of my job as leader of the medical staff is to work closely with our doctors on issues such as this. I will be helping to ensure that these conversations happen so that our patients understand the new policy and can comply."

EASTAR plans to remove as many barriers as possible to compliance with this new policy, understanding that people who are addicted will have a tough time not being able to smoke or use other forms of tobacco.