Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

If you want to get a new job at CoxHealth, from now on you'll need to be completely nicotine-free. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reports.

The new policy will go into effect on November 21 to coincide with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. CoxHealth estimates 17 to 20 percent of its current workforce uses tobacco products.

Steve Edwards is CEO for CoxHealth. He said current employees will not be affected by the new policy because they will be “grandfathered in.” He added that there will be incentives and support for those who wish to quit.

CoxHealth in Branson kicks off a new building project Wednesday afternoonwith a ground breaking ceremony. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the story.

A new, three story building will replace the current Medical Plaza 2 along Skaggs Road, which is scheduled to be torn down.  Michelle Leroux is with Cox Medical Center in Branson, and says the plans to rebuild and improve the hospital are critical to fill the growing needs of Taney and Stone county residents.  She adds these improvements are “a statement of stability and confidence in the community.”

Five southwest Missouri non-profits are to collectively receive $100,000 through Mercy Clinic’s Force for Good grant program, which is funded through the contributions of the company’s physicians and co-workers. KSMU’s Scott Harvey has details.

As the number of people with cataracts grows, a new laser surgery option is gaining momentum, with Mercy Hospital Springfield set to become the first in the region to offer the bladeless procedure next week. KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports.

Roughly 30 cataracts surgeries are performed at the hospital’s Eye and Ear Center each day, according to Dr. Shachar Tauber, Mercy ophthalmology section chair. And while the Catalys Precision Laser System won’t necessarily speed up the amount of patients right away, it’ll help with accuracy, he says.