Hospital employees should be ambassadors of good health—and Chattanooga-based Memorial Health Care System is embracing this theory. Well, sort of. The company has announced that in an effort to "further our mission of building healthier communities," it will no longer hire smokers and tobacco chewers. Smooth move? It seems so—after all, as FierceHealthCare.com points out, "On average, smokers cost employers between $2,500 and $4,000 annually for healthcare costs in comparison to nonsmokers."
But why stop there? Let's not tiptoe around the tofu anymore. We've written to officials at Memorial Health Care System urging them to take it a step further and implement a "vegetarians-only" hiring policy for area hospitals.
Here's just one example of why a vegetarians-only policy makes sense: Maybe more than anyone else, hospital employees should have an understanding of and appreciation for the effects of an animal-free diet on human health. Sadly, during a recent hospital stay, my mom was stuck eating PBJs day in and day out because the attendants who took her meal requests didn't know what "vegan" meant and seemed not to want to bother to figure it out.
People, I ask you: How's that possible?! Our nation's heath is at stake: While politicians argue about health care legislation, emergency rooms all over the country are bursting at their sliding glass doors with victims of America's three biggest killers—heart disease, strokes, and cancer, the origins of which are often traced back to meaty, cheese-laden diets. Forget pill-popping—prevention of these diseases is our (and animals') best bet.
If schools knowingly hired alcoholics to drive school buses, then we as a society would be outraged. I can hear parents crying out, "Irresponsible! Dangerous! Bad example!" Shouldn't we be equally appalled that hospitals continue to hire meat-addicted, unhealthy health care workers to spoon-feed Salisbury steaks to our sick and injured friends and family members? Becoming stronger and healthier starts with the food that goes into our mouths—and can be as simple as saying "Sayonara, salami. Hello, gardein!"