Julio had been smoking since he was a teenager. At 54, he decided to finally quit after several unsuccessful attempts. He reached out to Memorial’s Smoking Cessation program and has been without smoking for months.
The South Florida program based in Broward County is led by Paul Pevoroff, RN, a nurse Manager of 3 Central Observation Unit/Respiratory Therapy at Memorial Hospital Miramar, and Stephannie Braaf, an Administrative Assistant at Memorial Hospital West.
The evidence that smoking cigarettes poses catastrophic health risks is irrefutable. Yet the facts aren’t always strong enough to beat addiction’s irrational pull. We need help – the right help – to quit.
The cessation plans are individualized to improve the odds of success. Yet in order to customize those plans, people must first realize the root of their addiction.
“We’ve learned with our training that no two people smoke the same way,” says Paul. “We understand that it takes an average of between four and seven attempts to quit smoking and stay quit.”
The program began in 2013, when Candice Sareli, Chief Medical Research Officer for Memorial, asked Paul to devise an in-house process to help patients quit smoking. He created a two-part counseling model where Respiratory Therapy staff members attended training sessions to become facilitators. Paul and Stephannie also obtained advanced training through the State of Florida.
The first step in the process begins in at the patient’s bedside at Memorial. Patients with a history of smoking are assigned a respiratory therapist during his or her stay to perform a cessation counseling. If that patient expresses a desire to quit, the therapist provides information with the initial counseling and a program referral.
The second part involves Memorial’s partnership with Nova Southeastern University (Broward County’s area health education provider). Once a patient is discharged, representatives from Nova reach out to that person and place him or her in a classroom setting for interactive counseling sessions. The six-week course offers group-level support while accommodating the specific needs of each participant.
The focus on individualized treatment distinguishes this model from those that rely on standardized tools.
“Paul and I have gone through numerous amounts of training and seminars,” Stephannie says. “We were taught the most traditional way of training. But over the years we’ve seen that having the open dialogue has been so much better. Clients use the written materials as a guide, but actually sharing and opening up with each other and getting to learn from each other have been the biggest part of our success with them.”
To date, the success rate among graduates within the first year of completing this program is more than 30 percent. One participant, for example, experienced overwhelming frustration over previous attempts to quit in a variety of ways. He hasn’t smoked in the three months since finishing the course and already has seen a dramatic improvement in his overall health. The key for him was the combination of creative thinking, open dialog and a nonjudgmental climate.
Though still young, the program already has grown legs. Counseling sessions are now held at Memorial Hospital Miramar, Memorial Hospital Pembroke, and Memorial Hospital South. Paul and Stephannie have lectured at a variety of conferences across the state, as well as represented Memorial at the esteemed Mayo Clinic- a sponsored summit that reviewed the Memorial inpatient cessation counseling model and international experts have taken note. The attention is affirming and appreciated, but the best reward is a smoke-free client.
“When you can get an individual to open up about why they’re smoking and why they still struggle, you can help them see beyond that cloud they’re in,” says Paul.
“And you can come back if you slip,” Stephannie adds. “Our doors never close.”