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No scents makes sense at local health facilities

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Patients, visitors and health care workers will soon be able to breathe easier when entering Squamish General Hospital.

Vancouver Coastal Health will soon implement the scent-free policy recently adopted by Lions Gate Hospital at all its facilities, said spokesperson Viviana Zanocco.

The policy attempts to curb strong odours, such as perfume, aftershave and even pungent flowers, from going through hospital doors. But Coastal Health admits, it won't be easy to enforce.

"Could we enforce it? Probably not," said Zanocco. "But it's not something we could have there, and most people could abide by it. It's not like we're going to have people who sniff you when coming in the door and say 'Oh no, you've got to turn around, go home and have a shower.'"

Instead hospital staff that receive complaints from care workers and patients can now point to a policy to politely ask the individual to remove flowers that carry a strong smell, such as lilies. Such odours can lead some to have allergic reactions, migraines and nausea. The fact that some people react badly to strong odours is nothing new, but a facility-wide policy was long in coming because health authorities were attempting to assess how onerous such a rule would be.

Zanocco said her office has received a number of calls supporting the decision and even florists who make a living off get-well-soon arrangements are being positive.

"They're saying there are a lot of different kinds of blooms that are beautiful that don't smell and 'we know which ones they are'," said Zanocco. "So that's something they would take into consideration when creating an arrangements."

Vancouver Coastal Health is slowly implementing the policy throughout its region, but Zanocco said no schedule is set that will allow Squamish General to know when it will become part of the new no-scents brigade.

spaillard@squamishchief.com

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