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When Jim Ferry couldn’t get help from Sacramento Mercy Hospital he armed himself with paintbrushes and fought back. Smokers from the hospital were plaguing him, sitting on his wall, smoking under his windows and dropping butts.
Ferry went to hospital meetings, asked for help and complained through all the appropriate channels. All for naught. Patient and employee smokers in the neighborhood were not on the top of Mercy’s list of concerns. The smokers needed a close by place when a craving hit and Jim’s house was a good place to go. It’s right next to the front of the hospital on 40th and J Streets and has a convenient short-wall fence. Perfect sitting height.
Last year the hospital adopted a smoke free campus policy. There is no doubt that this is a good thing. The problem is––where can you go to smoke now that all of the hospital’s designated smoking areas are gone? The hospital cannot control where the smokers go––they just won’t let them smoke on hospital property.
East Sacramento Preservation suggested to Mercy that hospital housekeeping routinely check the ashtrays and help keep the neighborhood clean by making a butt sweeping round at least once a day, or more. We also suggested that hospital security help the neighbors by moving smokers along who smoke near houses, or sit on neighbors’ property. We have not see any evidence of this happening.
Ferry was fed up and Mercy didn’t count on the power of art. Out came the paint, the brushes and loads of creativity. Ferry used his wall as a canvass and made his case. Bright, optimistic images remind smokers and Mercy not to use his property as an ashtray. His tactic is positive and non confrontational. It’s art. It’s open to interpretation. And it’s working.