Saint Francis’ Decision to Cease Hiring Smokers Promotes Healthy Lifestyles
Saint Francis Medical Center has taken its focus on healthy living to a higher level. Beginning January 1, 2011, the Medical Center became just the second hospital in Missouri to cease hiring tobacco users.
“It is important for healthcare providers like us to promote a healthy environment and lifestyle,” states Steven C. Bjelich, FACHE-D, President and Chief Executive Officer at Saint Francis. “Our applicants are now tested for nicotine as part of their pre-employment screening.”
The policy change does not affect current employees who may be tobacco users. The Medical Center continues to offer these employees tobacco-cessation programs and incentives. According to the American Cancer Society®, people who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who keep smoking.
“The new policy is part of our Healthier Us initiative,” Bjelich explains. “It builds on our Healthy Rewards employee wellness program in which employees can earn incentives for making healthy lifestyle choices.”
A growing number of hospitals around the country are moving to nonsmoking hiring policies, led by the Cleveland Clinic’s decision in 2007. For a more detailed look at the issue, see this New York Times article, which also features comments by Bjelich.
Saint Francis offers employers a cost-effective tool to help their employees stop smoking with a seven-week onsite program called Freedom From Smoking®. You can request a Medical Center facilitator to come to your worksite to lead a program for your employees by contacting Mary Jane Fieser, worksite cessation project coordinator, at 573-275-2177 or email@example.com.
Occupational Therapy Driving Program Tests Road Skills Before a Return to Work
Driving is one of the most complex tasks our brains accomplish on a daily basis, yet it is something most of us take for granted. That is not the case for workers looking to return to driving-related jobs following traumatic illness or injury, where previously simple tasks can be a serious challenge.
The driving program offered by Saint Francis Medical Center’s Occupational Therapy department provides objective information regarding an individual’s ability to drive for employers and workers’ compensation cases. The program includes a pre-driving evaluation in a clinic setting, followed by an on-the-road segment when appropriate.
“During the pre-driving evaluation, we do a visual screening, measure reaction time and test clients’ ability to problem-solve, since being able to function with divided attention is a major issue for safe driving,” explains Ute Smith, OTR/L CDRS, senior occupational therapist and certified driving instructor at Saint Francis. “The biggest thing we look for is safety awareness – whether they have insight on how their actions can affect others on the road as well as themselves.”
Patients referred to the program have driving as one of their basic job tasks. Health issues include traumatic brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries and even dementia. A referral from a physician is necessary to participate in the program.
“If there are no red flags that come up during the pre-driving evaluation, then we take the client on the road in an instructor’s vehicle,” Smith says. “If they need testing in a specific vehicle they would drive at work, such as a truck, then we suggest we test in that vehicle.
“We try to get people to the point of retaining their jobs, keeping in mind that driving is a privilege, not a right.”
For more information on Saint Francis’ rehabilitation programs, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.
Follow the Four P’s to Stay Safe While Performing Lifts
Improper lifting technique is the root cause of many back, leg and arm injuries suffered in the workplace. Here is an easy-to-remember group of tips, called the Four P’s, to help your employees avoid these types of injuries.
Plan your lift and know where you are going with the load. Make sure you have a clear path to your destination and position yourself to avoid twisting. Ask for help if necessary, and make sure everyone involved agrees on the plan before moving.
Prepare for the lift by positioning your feet close to the load. This makes you a stronger and more stable lifter. Face the load squarely with your feet at shoulder width, use two hands and bend at the knees rather than your waist to minimize the stress on your lower back.
Pull the load close to you, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift with your legs, which are much stronger than your back muscles. This also keeps the load more stable.
Pivot; do not twist. Turn by moving your feet in small steps toward the new direction. Twisting is the #1 cause of workplace injuries, especially to the lower back.
To schedule a Saint Francis Medical Center physician to assess your workplace, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.