WCHS: Manor to remain smoke-free campus

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

 

Concerns about resident health and safety prompted discussion and review of the Weston County Manor’s current smoking policy by the Weston County Health Services board of trustees. 

On Nov. 15, after a lengthy discussion, trustees decided that the Manor would begin strictly enforcing its smoking policy, which states that the facility is a “smoke-free campus.” 

The board had previously discussed the topic after concerns were raised when residents were caught smoking on campus. Concerns were also expressed regarding the safety of residents crossing the street to smoke off campus, especially in months when road conditions are not the best. 

“Everyone is talking and saying
it is their home. That is true, but
they don’t own it,” Chairman Jimmy Long said. 

Long said that hotels and rental homes often have no-smoking policies and should someone using those facilities break the rules, that person would be subject to consequences. Residents are allowed to smoke, but the conversation centered on whether or not they should be allowed to do so “on campus.” 

Concerns also include what kind of liability the facility has for residents who choose to smoke, should they be injured or harmed while “off campus” smoking, Peck said. 

Diane McArthur, long-term care director at the Manor, described a resident who is bound to an electric wheelchair and on oxygen. She said that the woman chooses to smoke and takes other individuals with her on her smoking ventures across the street. 

McArthur described an elderly lady, ambulating gingerly with her walker, leaning to one side while escorting the other to their smoking destination across the street from the Manor. Should someone be injured by a fall or if the oxygen tank were to blow during one of these excursions, who is liable, McArthur asked. 

“It is one of those situations, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Peck said. “It is one of those touchy situations.” 

Peck said that the Manor would be liable should the person on oxygen, whether standing on campus or across the street, end up burning himself or herself. 

According to Peck, the facility does not have to give residents “the right to smoke on campus” and residents can be restricted from leaving campus if conditions outside are deemed unsafe. He noted that in cases when it is unsafe for residents to leave, the facility does not have to provide an indoor smoking area. 

Peck also touched on the fact that because the facility is considered “smoke free,” employees cannot be expected to, or ordered to, escort residents outside to smoke. 

“They have the right to be smoke free if they are hired into a smoke-free environment,” Peck said, noting that it could create a hostile working environment if employees were instructed to escort residents outside to smoke. 

The board decided to leave the smoking policy in place and not allow for “on campus” smoking at Weston County Health Services. 

 “I think we need to leave the policy as is and if residents continue to violate, then we will work with them and maybe have to find another place for them,” Long said.  

Peck stressed that relocating a resident would have to be discussed with family and residents. 

“All we can do is try to enforce our policy and explain to them why,” board member Connie James said. 

Peck acknowledged that each case might be handled differently because some residents have more ability than others. He explained that during nice weather, some people may be able to safely go to the appropriate smoking area and others may not. He said that the same individual may have to call a family member for an escort to a smoking area during inclement weather. 

CEO Maureen Cadwell said that the board will enforce the policy and educate families and residents. She noted that if unsafe practices continue, then the Manor will “start looking” into another home for the resident in question. 

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