Royal Victoria Hospital’s program helps staff butt out

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Michele DeHetre is a quitter and, she’s pretty proud of that fact. It means she’s joined an elite group of people who have chosen to make their health a priority by butting out.

But it wasn’t easy. Up until seven months ago, Michele would have described herself as a lifetime smoker – having smoked for more than 40 years. She tried to quit smoking many times – using the patch, going “cold turkey”, taking Zyban, even hypnosis, but nothing seemed to work.

“Right after my hypnosis session I went outside and had a cigarette,” said Michele, a Telecommunications Operator at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. “You just have to have the right reason to quit smoking,”

That “right reason” came along when her 28-year-old son became seriously ill. His condition made her re-evaluate her life and her own health. She began to think about how fragile life is and how smoking increases the risk factors for so many diseases.

“My son was my inspiration,” she said.” It can be tough, though. Ask anyone who has smoked and tried to quit. Nicotine is a very addictive substance and is extremely difficult to overcome, but once you do, the health benefits far outweigh the trials and tribulations that come when you try to kick the habit.”

When Michele decided to quit smoking she wasn’t alone -Êshe had an entire hospital following suit. That’s because at the time Michele decided to quit, Royal Victoria Hospital was in the process of becoming a smoke-free campus. This also provided Michele with added incentive to kick the habit.

“I’m a shift worker and when I work evening shifts, it is impossible for me to leave the property for a break,” she said. “If I was still a smoker when we went smoke-free my eight-hour smokeless shift would have been agonizing.”

Michele decided to quit and she got some help from RVH. As part of the Exceptional Air campaign, RVH established a benefits package for smoking cessation. Michele took advantage of this benefit, which covers 75 per cent of Nicotine Replacement Therapy costs.

“RVH has assisted more than 60 of our staff to quit smoking, but I know of many others who have decided to quietly quit on their own,” said Mary Lou Peers, Manager of Occupational Health and Safety at Royal Victoria Hospital. “This is great news because ultimately our goal is to help our staff become as healthy as they possibly can and obviously quitting smoking is a big step in the right direction.”

Michele agrees, adding that timing is everything. “There is a right time and the right reason for each person and this was my time,” said Michele.

Royal Victoria Hospital has also successfully “kicked the habit” and has been a completely smoke-free campus for more than three months.

For more on how to quit smoking or the Exceptional Air campaign check out the RVH website at www.rvh.on.ca.