With a comprehensive tobacco-free policy and a host of other wellness-related policies and benchmarks, Washington Parish residents can breathe a little easier when visiting Our Lady of the Angels Hospital, who has achieved recognition as a Level 1 WellSpot.
The hospital, located in rural Bogalusa, LA, is an affiliate of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. For decades, this healthcare hub has served as a beacon for rural residents across Washington Parish and beyond—many of whom live in underserved, rural communities with few options for accessing healthcare. And, like in so many communities across Louisiana, residents here suffer from heightened rates of smoking and tobacco use.
Angela Lambert, Director of Marketing and Communications at Our Lady of the Angels, and her talented team knew that if they wanted to make a bigger impact on the health and well-being of their community, they would need to implement a comprehensive tobacco-free policy for patients, staff and visitors to the hospital. This aligned perfectly with their goal to achieve Level 1 WellSpot designation.
“Pretty quickly we found that establishing a tobacco-free policy isn’t all that difficult; enforcing the policy is where you encounter challenges,” said Angela. “In our community, we are in survival mode most of the time. Many of our residents are low-income and are struggling just to get by and provide for their families. When it comes to health literacy, it’s up to us to educate these residents on the importance of living tobacco-free. We meet people where they are and help them meet their basic needs so that they can focus on improving their health and wellness.”
“Unfortunately, we know that some of those involved in and working in healthcare are some of those people suffering from the highest rates of tobacco-use,” said Angela.
With over 500 employees, it was important for Our Lady of the Angels to also focus on tobacco-use among the staff. Through a variety of different programs, support through their health insurance benefits, participation in the Great American Smokeout and by offering an array of tobacco-cessation tools, Our Lady of the Angels has been successful at reducing tobacco rates among their employees.
“As an important healthcare institution in our community, pursing a tobacco-free policy and leveraging that health policy to achieve a WellSpot designation was a no-brainer,” said Angela. “I encourage every hospital and healthcare provider across our state to take this step. Well-Ahead Louisiana was a fantastic partner to collaborate with.”
By becoming a WellSpot, you can show your employees and your community that you are prioritizing their health and wellness. All across our state, leaders are working to make a difference and move Louisiana’s health forward. Well-Ahead works with a variety of organizations to implement health and wellness benchmarks tailored to each organization type—worksite, child care center, school, college or university, restaurant, hospital, healthcare facility or faith-based organization.