Washington County Public Health and Glens Falls Hospital, with support from North Country Nicotine Consultants, joined forces at the beginning of 2023 to enhance the resources and tools available to people looking to quit smoking and using tobacco.
“Washington County has the highest smoking rates in New York State,” said Riley Brennan, program coordinator at Glens Falls Hospital, which is a co-founder of North Country Nicotine Consultants. “Our county is rural with high rates of poverty — this project intends to increase access and delivery of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for nicotine addiction by partnering with community-based organizations that serve residents who need these services the most.”
In January, Washington County Public Health hired Autumn Headwell to run the new cessation program; Headwell and Washington County Senior Health Educator Elizabeth St. John then completed training to become Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists. The two now work with community organizations such as Comfort Food Community and the Council for Prevention to make cessation services more accessible to Washington County residents.
“Smoking and smoking related diseases pose a significant challenge for Washington County residents,” Washington County Public Health Director Tina McDougall said. “Tobacco prevention is one of the top focus areas identified in our most recent Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan. We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with Glens Falls Hospital and North Country Nicotine Consultants to provide the staff and resources to assist our residents who wish to quit smoking and using tobacco.”
North Country Nicotine Consultants (NCNC) provides resources and consultation to health care providers to help increase delivery of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for nicotine addiction. The Heart Network, in partnership with Glens Falls Hospital, offers NCNC to work collaboratively with health care systems to develop and support the consistent and effective identification and treatment of tobacco users.
“While our goal is to help anyone looking to quit smoking, we strive to specifically support health care systems that serve disparate populations with low-income, low-educational attainment and behavioral health care needs,” said Arriana Patraw, program coordinator at The Heart Network. “Healthcare providers are uniquely positioned to help people quit more successfully — five minutes of brief counseling can double a patient’s chance of quitting. We’re excited to see agencies like Washington County Public Health embrace a more comprehensive approach to protecting public health and saving lives.”