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Albert County: Staying committed to quitting

June 5, 2020 was a momentous day for Albert County resident Kathy Chapman: after smoking for more than 40 years, she had been cigarette-free for one year.

Kathy started smoking when she was 18-years-old, and after moving to New Brunswick from Ontario, she knew she had to stop because of the amount of money she was spending.

"I was smoking a pack a day, 25 cigarettes," Kathy said. "At close to $20 a pack, it was costing too much."

Horizon Health Network (Horizon) is a centre of excellence for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), which is a free, evidence-based, best practice model that integrates smoking cessation into the standard of care Horizon provides.

Mary Woodworth, a registered nurse at Horizon's Albert County Community Health Centre (ACCHC), said OMSC offers different ways to quit smoking, catered to the client's choice.

"We support and ask clients to choose a quit date, if we can, so we can give them a goal," Mary said. "And we follow up once a week to see how they're doing."

"I couldn't have done it without Mary and all the staff at the health centre, they were absolutely amazing," Kathy said. "They were so supportive and caring. I couldn't believe how wonderful they all were."

Kathy had quit smoking, once before, for a year, but started again because of weight gain. So this time, before she started OMSC with Mary, she lost about 30 pounds to prepare.

"I did gain all 30 pounds back, and then some," Kathy said. "But I am committed to quitting this time."

Kathy Chapman

With the OMSC, Mary is able to connect clients to a dietitian, and any other member of the collaborative team at ACCHC, such as social workers.

Kathy began her quitting journey with Mary in May 2019.

"I did Champix in order to quit, but I found I had extreme side effects from it, so I just stopped taking it," Kathy said. "But because of Mary, I was still able to quit. I was able to pick June 5 [2019] and I quit that day."

During follow-up appointments, Mary listens to what clients are going through, and offers different ways to combat the cravings.

"When it's a nice time of year, instead of smoking, maybe go for a walk outside, get some fresh air," she said. "We help them make the right choices and regain their confidence."

Throughout her quitting journey, Kathy said Mary was essential because their meetings were what kept her committed.

Then, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted everything.

Throughout COVID-19, Mary has kept in touch with clients over the phone, rather than in person, and she said despite the added stress, her OMSC clients have done well.

"Those who quit, hadn't started, and those who had cut back had still cut back," Mary said. "Sometimes when you try things alone, you stumble and convince yourself that you don't need to stay committed to quitting."

Kathy needed encouragement to succeed, rather than accountability.

"She would always say 'Don't be hard on yourself,' and 'Don't worry'," Kathy said. "If I had someone on me, holding me accountable, I would have left the program. That's the last thing I needed."

Although she's been smoke-free for more than a year now, Kathy still works hard to maintain

"I have major cravings, still. There's a certain time, every day, where I still think 'Oh, I'm going to go have a cigarette,' and I have to remind myself that I don't smoke," she said. "It's extremely hard to quit. It's addictive. It's a drug."

As she continues to work through the OMSC, Kathy is concentrating on losing the weight.

"I'm still on this journey, even though I've quit for a year," Kathy said. "Next year, at this time, I'll be in an even better place."

Kathy said on top of the support from Mary and the staff at ACCHC, her husband John has been by her side every step of the way.

"John has been a rock throughout my journey. He put up with a lot, but he just kept encouraging me and supporting me every single day," Kathy said. "He still tells me out of the blue, at least once a week that he is so proud of me. I am very blessed."

The OMSC is available through many of Horizon's community health centres and clinics, and there is no referral needed. Talk to your health care provider or call your local health centre for more information.

Anyone in Albert County who's interested in quitting smoking, can do so by calling the ACCHC at 506-882-3100.

"The program works. But unless you're absolutely ready to quit, you're not going to do it. It takes a lot of courage and strength," Kathy said. "I know and I promise you, anybody who has it in their mind and they're serious and they want to do it, go through this program and it'll work."

Mary Woodworth is a lifelong resident of Hillsborough. She graduated from the Miss A.J. MacMaster School of Nursing 1988. Following stints in Saint John, and San Antonio, Texas, Mary began work at Horizon's The Moncton Hospital (TMH) in 1991.

She worked in several different units at TMH over the years and transitioned to community nursing at Horizon's Albert County Community Health Centre in August 2018.

Mary says it's wonderful to work in her home community because she enjoys getting to know people in, seeing needs, and helping where she can.

Riverside-Albert, where Horizon's Albert County Community Health Centre, is located in Albert County. This is a rural area in the Southeastern part of the province on the Chignecto Bay in the Bay of Fundy, in the Moncton Area. A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was completed for the Albert County Area in 2016. The next round of CHNAs are already underway.  

In addition to the community of Riverside-Albert, the Albert County Area includes the communities of Alma, Elgin, Germantown, Harvey, Hillsborough, and Hopewell.

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