According to the American Cancer Society, more than 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. It causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, while more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. Because of these alarming statistics, the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout. Held on the third Thursday of November each year, the Great American Smokeout affords people who smoke the opportunity to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives.
At the end of October, patients at Trinity Health will be able to get a head start. Trinity Health will unveil a smoking cessation program to inpatients and outpatients at Trinity Hospital and at our Minot clinics. Jessica DeLorme, FNP-C, a nurse practitioner with Behavioral Health, wrote the grant for Trinity Health to participate in the program. She often works with patients who have a “dual diagnosis,” in which they may have a behavioral health issue, as well as some sort of substance use, such as nicotine.
The program works this way: When a patient comes to the emergency room or a clinic, nursing staff will perform documentation screens and will ask if the patient is a nicotine user. A tobacco treatment specialist – most likely a respiratory therapist or a pharmacist, although DeLorme “and a few others” are interested in training for this – will then visit the patient, talk about their nicotine use history, and talk to them about getting help to quit. “At that point, we’ll be able to send them home with free nicotine patches or gum.”
In the past, patients who were interested in smoking cessation would call the North Dakota Quits program and supplies would be sent to them three to seven days after. “At that point, they have to pay out of pocket for those supplies, or try to abstain,” DeLorme said. “It’s very expensive to pay out of pocket.”
After the initial consultation, North Dakota Quits will call the patient every month and have a brief phone call to follow up on how the cessation is progressing and supply the patient with more cessation aids, if needed, DeLorme said, adding that the program will not incur a cost to the patient.
After another training next January, DeLorme hopes to get staff from Trinity Health’s outlying clinics to participate so the program can grow beyond Minot.
According to the most recent statistics from the North Dakota Department of Health, about 19 percent of adults (18 years or older) living in the city of Minot smoke cigarettes. Those figures include 7,030 of the 36,806 adults living in the city. In Ward County, 9,213 of the 51,756 adults, or 17.8 percent, smoke cigarettes, as do 111,059 of the 581,459 (or 19 percent) adults living in the state of North Dakota.
If you are interested in participating in smoking cessation, call your healthcare provider or Jessica DeLorme to set up a screening. DeLorme can be reached at 701-857-2286.