Hospital smoking ban has neighbors in a huff

Wenatchee facility promises to find solution

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WENATCHEE — Ever since Central Washington Hospital banned smoking on its Wenatchee campus in February, smokers have made their way to a sidewalk to light up.

Residents of the Fuller Street neighborhood now say they have to put up with cigarette butts and the sight of people in scrubs and other hospital workers, visitors and even patients smoking near their homes, The Wenatchee World reported Tuesday.

"Now all the cigarette butts blow over here to our house and we have to pick them up," said Dean Dillard.

"You see all these professionals with their scrubs on and it's just not a good vision," said his wife, Joyce. "Do they wash their hands and brush their teeth before they go back to work? I wonder."

The hospital put out a sand-filled bucket for butts and it's an eyesore, said Susie Huntley, another Fuller Street resident.

"It's patients, visitors and employees," she said. "They sit right across from our house and smoke. I've got a couple of small kids and they see this and smell it and they want to know why."

The Dillards, Huntley and neighbor Angel Delaney suggested the hospital designate a smoking area on campus.

"It could be a smoke shack where they can go and not disturb the neighbors and the public," Huntley said.

Tracey Kasnic, chief nursing officer for Confluence Health, which includes the hospital, said setting up a designated area would send a "mixed message. It says we're smoke-free except in this area; that we think smoking is bad except if you can't help yourself."

Kasnic hopes to hire a consultant to help figure out how to "make this a win-win for the hospital and the neighborhood. We don't want to burden our neighbors but we're really committed to being a smoke-free campus."

The neighbors say the hospital's policy is wafting too strongly in their direction.

"My kids are looking out at people who are supposed to be professionals, standing there in their scrubs smoking," Delaney said. "There have also been patients hooked up to tubing and in hospital gowns, smoking, and I think that's ridiculous."