Mercy Tobacco Cessation: A Quitter Shares Her Story

April 12, 2013

Mercy Springfield co-worker Susan Reichert was what she called a “closet smoker” since high school. Embarrassed by her habit, she smoked only when she was alone or around certain adult family members or friends. She was able to quit during her two pregnancies but picked the habit back up after the birth of each son.

“I used smoking as a form of stress relief or as a reward system,” said Reichert now in her mid-30s. “After I packed the kids’ lunches and got them off to school, I’d go outside and have a cigarette. After dinner, I’d usually have a cigarette. I was only smoking five to 10 cigarettes a day, but I knew I needed to stop for my health and to be a good role model for my kids.”

Three years ago, her oldest son pleaded with her to give up smoking.

“That was my moment. That was when I knew I was ready but I needed help. Mercy gave me that support.”

As part of the Mercy Springfield health plan, assistance with tobacco cessation is available to all co-workers. 

“I thought that if my employer believes in me enough to provide me with this opportunity, I should do this for myself,” Reichert stated.

 The Road to Freedom tobacco cessation program employs the use of coaching by trained nurses and wellness educators. Both in person and telephonic coaching offer physical and emotional support to break the nicotine addiction.

Gale Ayers, RN, Certified Wellness Coach and trained tobacco cessation specialist: “The coaching relationship is an alliance we have with the client. We help people implement change in their daily lives and we focus on what works for the individual to accomplish lifestyle changes. Every person is different and we help them find their own path to achieve success.”

Ayers advised Reichert to choose one cigarette of the day to drop each week, which she did week by week for several weeks. Then Reichert set a ‘quit date’ and literally “kicked that habit” for good.

“Gale was a great listener,” said Reichert. “We talked a least once a week at first and she helped me identify what triggered my craving to smoke. She taught me how to use breathing exercises to get through stressful situations. I learned to change my routine so I wouldn’t be in a situation to smoke. She also gave me tips on foods to eat, such as nuts, carrots, celery and other crunchy foods to help with the cravings. I really felt like I had someone on my side. I wasn’t going through this alone. Every now and then she calls just to check on how I am doing. Now we talk about helping my husband quick smoking.”

In addition to tobacco cessation, wellness coaching has a successful track record for reducing health risks, adding fitness to daily life, stress and weight management and nutrition education for overall improved health. 

“The coaching is mainly telephonic,” explained Ayers. “It is based on behavioral principals (readiness to change and choice theory) and counseling practices. Typically by the end of three months, clients reach more than 70% of their goals, are energized and confident to continue. We help them make healthy choices to change and be successful but the client is always in the driver’s seat deciding what and when they are ready to move ahead.”

For Reichert, “having a coach is what made the difference. I could not have done this on my own.” 

To learn how well coaching can provide you with the motivation and guidance to achieve lifestyle changes, please call 417-820-3400.  Mercy Corporate Health and Wellness has are over a dozen trained well coaches ready to serve you.  

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