Residents at Creston’s Swan Valley Lodge need safer smoking area

Web Lead

To the Editor:

(Open letter to Interior Health Authority president and CEO Chris Mazurkewich)

I am very concerned by the way the Interior Health Authority policy prohibiting smoking on IHA property is impacting a small number of long-term residents at Swan Valley Lodge.

Generally speaking, it’s a policy that I can wholeheartedly support. I am a lifelong non-smoker bothered by the smoke and tobacco residue evident on the clothing, hair, and breath of smokers. So it is beyond ironic that I should be writing in support of smoking residents at Swan Valley Lodge. I am doing so as the almost daily visitor of an elderly resident. I am writing because the current situation is one that I feel strongly about. I do not feel the reluctance to speak out about this issue that has been expressed by some of the smokers. They feel, as do I, that they are being treated as second-class citizens. Likewise, I am not an IHA employee, some of whom have expressed verbal support for the smokers but don’t feel that they can put that support in writing.

It is heartbreaking for me, when I enter or exit SVL, to see the small number of smokers outside, all bundled up against the current cold wintry weather. It makes me angry that they aren’t provided a place to smoke, out of the elements, that’s conveniently and safely accessible. Repeated exposures to low temperatures and sometimes inclement conditions may be as harmful as exposure to burning tobacco itself.

I agree that employees and visitors at Creston Valley Hospital should be prohibited from smoking on hospital property. The hospital is a medical facility. I also agree that smoking patients who are expected to be short-stay residents should be made to smoke off the grounds, unless their conditions prevent smoking. Likewise, I agree that employees and visitors at Swan Valley Lodge should be required to abide by the IHA policy. However, I think that residents should be treated differently. My reasons are as follows:

•Unlike Creston Valley Hospital, Swan Valley Lodge is primarily a residence, not a medical facility. It is the residents’ home. I daresay, though, that it is one that none of them probably would’ve chosen as their long-term, and likely final, home. As nice a place as SVL is, and as competent, caring and compassionate as the care staff is, I doubt that residence at SVL has been any resident’s fervent goal. Instead, it is their default residence because their physical and/or mental health circumstances dictate that they live where round-the-clock personal care is available should it be needed.

•Smoking is an addictive behaviour that many people find difficult to overcome, despite numerous attempts. Other smokers enjoy, and choose to continue, smoking, in spite of their knowledge of its negative health effects. That is their right, as long as their smoking doesn’t impinge on the rights of other people in the vicinity.

•The public street closest to SVL is not level. It slopes down towards busy Highway 3. It is sufficiently sloped that the public sidewalk between it and SVL property could become a real safety hazard should the brakes on a resident’s wheelchair fail while he/she is on it in order to smoke off SVL property. Add in frosty, icy or snowy conditions, and one can easily see how dangerous it could be. Just getting to and from the sidewalk in such conditions is both difficult and hazardous.

Until a few months ago, resident smokers were permitted to smoke in an outdoor courtyard area away from public viewing, under a narrow covered portion between two residence wings. However, during warmer weather, some residents, whose windows opened into the courtyard, complained that cigarette smoke was drifting into their rooms. After that, the smokers were no longer permitted to smoke in the courtyard. I realize that smoking has become a taboo behaviour. However, I am asking that the leadership of IHA please provide a safe, easily accessed area, sheltered from all weather conditions, for the small number of resident smokers at Swan Valley Lodge.

Elaine Breeden

Creston

 

Just Posted

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Peppered Pig slays the Dragon

The competition on Wednesday night at Prince Charles Theatre featured five local business owners vying for a $1,000 gift certificate from Creston Save-On-Foods.

A photography hobby becomes a business

Lit Photo/Video is on a mission to capture the most striking images and video to showcase the beauty of everything in the Kootenays.

The politics of fear

In a chat with my boss earlier this week I told him that for the first time in my career I am actually wondering about my personal safety.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Most Read