All new applicants, who are offered a position at WellSpan, will be tested
Effective Jan. 1, 2015, WellSpan Health will no longer hire new employees who use tobacco or nicotine products.
WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital has had a tobacco-free hiring policy since July 2011. As part of continuing integration efforts, the WellSpan Health Board of Directors noted the benefits of the policy for patients, visitors and employees, and approved extending those benefits to the entire WellSpan system.
The new policy is part of WellSpan’s continuing efforts to foster lifelong wellness and healthy communities, according to Robert Batory, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for WellSpan Health.
The policy only applies to new hires, Batory said. Current employees who use tobacco will not be affected.
“Our goal is to promote tobacco-free living and to create a healthier and more pleasant environment for those who visit or receive care at a WellSpan facility,” Batory said.
WellSpan first banned smoking indoors in its facilities in 1991. In 2006, the health system designated all WellSpan locations as tobacco-free campuses.
“This is yet another step in WellSpan’s journey to reduce the detrimental impacts of tobacco use in our community,” Batory said. Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States.
The 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment showed that more than one in five adults in York and Adams counties identified themselves as regular smokers, while 13 percent of adults in Lancaster County are regular smokers. That statistic does not include minors who use tobacco, nor adults who use smokeless or other forms of tobacco.
Batory noted that the tobacco-free hiring policy is similar to other requirements for prospective employees, including being drug-free, fragrance-free and receiving an annual flu vaccination.
Under the tobacco-free hiring policy, anyone considering employment at WellSpan must be tobacco free as of Jan. 1, 2015. However, any applicants who accepted an active offer of employment from WellSpan prior to August 1, 2014 will be exempted.
All applicants, who are offered a position with WellSpan, will be tested for tobacco and nicotine use through a urine test as part of their post-offer, pre-placement health screening.
Those who test positive for tobacco and nicotine use will not be hired. If an applicant tests positive, he or she may re-apply for a position after 12 months, provided the individual has ceased using tobacco products.
If an individual tests positive for nicotine because of authorized tobacco cessation efforts, such as nicotine gum or a nicotine patch, it will not impact that applicant’s offer of employment, Batory said. This is in keeping with WellSpan’s tobacco cessation programs and counselors, which are aimed at helping individuals lead tobacco-free lives.