St. Bernards adds nicotine tests for new employees

St. Bernards adds nicotine tests for new employees

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The corner of Carson and Matthews in downtown Jonesboro is an area known to many as smoker's corner.

This is because it is the area that is just off the St. Bernards Healthcare campus, which you are not allowed to smoke on.

The area is used by employees and visitors to the hospital, but may be seeing less employees in the future due to a new policy.

St. Bernards now requires new employees to pass a nicotine test before they can work at the hospital.

Jacque Ballard, Vice President of Human Resources at St. Bernards, said it is all about a new healthy initiatives campaign at the hospital which also includes exercise classes, nutrition classes and a sick call clinic for employees.

The anti-nicotine policy, though, has some locals talking.

Leslie Swan of Jonesboro said she doesn't agree with what the healthcare provider is doing.

"I think that should be their personal choice of whether or not they choose to smoke or whether or not they don't," Swan said.

While the new policy has been set up for new employment, Ballard said current workers at the hospital are grand fathered in and do not have to take the tests. 

The policy is only for new employees and it isn't just targeting smokers.

"Patches, gum, smoking, dipping, anything like that, that contains nicotine the screen would capture," Ballard said

While there are many different kinds of tobacco would trigger a read for nicotine in the system, Ballard said second-hand smoke would not be picked up in the test, which means those that live in households with a smoker would not have trouble during the test.

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