Des Moines healthcare providers go tobacco free

June 25, 2006 —

DES MOINES, Iowa – Effective July 1, 2006, Des Moines University, Broadlawns Medical Center, Iowa Health – Des Moines, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines and Wesley Retirement Services will be tobacco-free organizations.

“As healthcare organizations with the mission of improving the overall health of the communities we serve, we believe it is important for us to take a strong stand on this issue,” said Eric Crowell, president and CEO of Iowa Health – Des Moines. “Through this joint effort, we join our colleagues across the United States, and throughout the world, in trying to reduce the cause of one in five deaths.”

Our tobacco-free policies mean that tobacco products are prohibited in our buildings, vehicles, walkways and parking lots. This policy covers all grounds and facilities we own, maintain or lease.

“Patients who seek care at our institutions expect the best technology, medical care and on-going education for treating their disease. When the disease is tobacco-related, we impress upon the patient the need to stop using tobacco products. Not following our own advice by allowing smoking on our campuses and other facilities is a direct contradiction,” added Mercy President & CEO David Vellinga.

Patients also have the right to receive treatment from healthcare professionals without being exposed to second-hand smoke or the smell of smoke on their clothing. For some people the simple smell of smoke can trigger their nicotine addiction and slow their recovery.

For patients, smoking cessation information and services will be offered at the time of admission. Their physicians will be able to order nicotine replacement therapies during their hospital stay. Research has shown that patients who smoke regularly before surgery have twice the susceptibility to wound infections; and, if they have broken bones, it can take twice as long to heal as a non-smoker. Stopping the use of tobacco products can reduce these risks over time. In addition, care kits will be available for visitors if they need assistance while on our campus.

“We have known for years that tobacco cessation is the number one thing Americans can do to improve their health and increase their life expectancy,” said Jody Jenner, president and CEO of Broadlawns Medical Center. “By undertaking this initiative, we truly have an opportunity to improve the health of our communities.”

“This is an ambitious and vital action to try to ensure the overall health of our employees, clients, residents and their families,” says President and CEO of Wesley Retirement Services Rob Kretzinger. “As organizations we care deeply about our workers and those we serve. We realize this effort may prove challenging and require extensive education and resources to be a success. However, we have a responsibility to make that commitment.”

It is estimated that use of tobacco products in the U.S. costs about $150 billion a year in health care and lost productivity costs. Each year, more than 450,000 people die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.
In going tobacco-free, Iowa Health – Des Moines, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines, Broadlawns Medical Center, Wesley Retirement Services and Des Moines University join other leading healthcare organizations that include Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City and St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Sioux City. In addition, the Iowa Hospital Association has encouraged all Iowa Hospitals to go tobacco free on July 1 as well.

“We believe these efforts by our organizations will realize benefits in the overall health of our patients, our employees and our communities. Together we can help prevent illness and the loss of life caused by the use of tobacco products,” said Terry Branstad, president of Des Moines University.


Courtney Tompkins has been part of the DMU marketing team since Nov. 2005 and loves promoting a school she believes in so thoroughly. Proud daughter and patient of DMU alumni, Courtney knows, first-hand, that Des Moines University is doing a world of good. A fan of all outdoor festivals, fruity drinks and nearly all edibles, she has a hard time narrowing down her list of favorite places to go and things to do but lists the Iowa State Fair as an all-time fave. She loves her 8-minute commute to DMU from Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines. She and husband Tyler are owned by three large dogs, Tonka, Tucker and Tank.