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Sparrow Revises Nicotine Hiring Policy

Sparrow Health System

Sparrow Hospital in Lansing is changing a near decade-old policy prohibiting the hiring of applicants who test positive for nicotine. Instead of requiring applicants to pass a test showing that they don’t use tobacco, Sparrow Health System will now consider hiring tobacco users who agree to participate in a four-week cessation program.

Sherry Pfaff-Doody is Director of Talent Acquisition at Sparrow. She says there are openings at all levels, not just doctors and nurses, but also areas like food service and phlebotomy. “With all of the COVID testing that has gone on," she explains, "everything within our lab, there is a position open in every area.”

Pfaff-Doody says Sparrow hasn’t turned a lot people away because they failed the nicotine test, but it’s impossible to know how many people haven’t applied because they knew they’d be tested. “It would be the anticipation with a policy change like this," she adds, "that we would see a number of candidates who would not otherwise apply would apply at this time, and that is what our hope would be.”

New hires who complete the cessation training will not face termination if they don’t quit smoking. Pfaff-Doody hopes people hired under the new policy will become healthier by ending their tobacco use.

The new policy takes immediate effect.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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