By CARL E. FEATHER - firstname.lastname@example.org
KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP —
Residents of the Ashtabula County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center learned Wednesday that their home will become a no-smoking residence come July 1.
Commissioners Joe Moroski and Daniel Claypool met with the management team of Generations Healthcare last week to discuss the home’s smoking policy. Maureen Wern, a team member, told the board that residents are allowed to smoke in a designated room certain hours of the day. On average, the room is open about four hours a day. A staff member is in the room during that time.
About a dozen residents, or 10 percent of the nursing home’s census, are smokers.
“We have a lot of smokers,” said Administrator Mary Lou Clatterbuck. “They’ve been here a long time.”
“They are heavy smokers. They would be in that room non-stop if we allowed it,” Wern said.
Commissioners recently received a letter from the daughter of a woman whose room is near the smoking area and is bothered by the second-hand smoke. The inquiry got the ball rolling on an idea that Administrator Mary Lou Clatterbuck had been weighing for some time.
“It’s my goal (for the nursing home) to be smoke free,” she said.
Employees who smoke are not allowed to smoke in the residents’ smoking room; the employee must light up in his or her private vehicle during a break period. Wern said one of the challenges of having a designated smoking area for residents is that it exposes the staff member who monitors it to second-hand smoke.
Phillip Coury, a member of the Generations team, said it will be important for the home to have a written policy on resident smoking and a phase-in period. That will give residents time to enroll in a smoking-cessation program, switch to electronic cigarettes or make arrangements to move into a smoking facility.
Finding such a place in Ashtabula County could be difficult, however. Geneva Shores, formerly Sacred Heart Nursing, does allow residents who pass an assessment to smoke on an outside porch during specific times. The smoking is supervised by a staff member and the residents must bundle up this time of year in order to participate in their habit.
Coury told the board to brace for resistance from the affected residents and ombudsmen. But he said the trend in the industry is to make nursing homes smoke free.
“And truthfully, we do have the right to become smoke free,” he said.
Nevertheless, Wern pointed out that for tobacco users, home is where the smoke is.
“You got to remember this is their home and these are people who have lived here a long time,” Wern said. “It’s an emotional thing for people.”