Denise Taylor, MS, RD, manager of Project Connect, a smoking cessation program at ChristianaCare, received a Challenge Wellness Leadership Award from Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long.
The award recognizes individuals and organizations that are making Delaware a healthier place to live and exemplify a commitment for long-term change in the First State.
Project Connect provides an intervention in the hospital followed by at least one month of smoking cessation support. This model has increased quit rates by 37% and has been shown to lower 30-day readmission rates and one-year health care costs. Through Project Connect, ChristianaCare helps hospitalized smokers quit for good.
Despite a decrease in the rate of cigarette smoking, it remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the US, responsible for 1 in 5 deaths per year. Smoking-related illnesses cost more than $300 billion a year, including $170 billion in direct medical care and $156 billion in lost productivity.
“Your healthy living entry was among a truly impressive group of candidates from across the state, and was highly ranked by our team of distinguished judges for its sustainability, reach and outcome/impact for Delaware,” Hall Long said. “It will no doubt inspire others to enact initiatives in their own communities. Thank you for helping inspire others to live healthier lives.”
Taylor credited the partnership between ChristianaCare and the Delaware Quitline as a key to success. “Project Connect illustrates that a partnership between ChristianaCare and the Delaware Quitline provides a feasible and effective continuum of care for tobacco dependence, from the bedside to the community,” Taylor said.
Delaware is the only state to provide both telephone and in-person counseling, and one of the only states to offer all seven FDA-approved quit medications —nicotine products such as patches and gum and prescription medicines. “These comprehensive features, including unlimited re-enrollment, remove barriers to quitting and encourage smokers to quit at their own pace with free treatment,” Taylor said.
During bedside visits in the hospital, Project Connect team members tell patients that “quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Quitting is hard, but we can help.” Inpatients have access to nicotine replacement therapy if they choose and go home with quit medicines if possible.
Ready-to-quit smokers are connected through e-referral to the Delaware Quitline for free cessation treatment which includes behavioral counseling and pharmacotherapy. Smokers who are not seen at the bedside or request follow-up receive three automated, interactive calls or text messages over one month to provide support and connect them to free quit services when they are ready to quit.
“This award belongs to the entire Project Connect team including bedside tobacco treatment specialist Lori Ciabattoni, face-to-face quit coaches Jen Bivens, Nora Katurakes, and Natalie Outslay, Bobby Baker and Ann Fallon in IT, and Bayo Gbadebo, Alex Mapp, and Scott Siegel from the Value Institute,” Taylor said. “We are grateful to Dr. Roger Kerzner, Dr. Vinay Maheshwari, Sean Nolan, and Billie Speakman for their ongoing support and leadership of ChristianaCare’s smoking cessation efforts.”