Thursday, May 20, 2010

“Quit to Get Fit” Provides Tools and Resources to Stop Tobacco Use

Since becoming a tobacco-free campus in 2008, Martin Memorial has increased its commitment to help associates, patients and community members quit tobacco use.

As part of that commitment Martin Memorial, with the support of the Lake Okeechobee Rural Health Network (LORHN) and the Everglades Area Health Education Center, recently received a $325,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health to aid smoking cessation efforts.

This summer, Martin Memorial will be eligible for additional grant funding if it meets criteria set by the Department of Health. This is the largest grant awarded to a health system of this size in Florida. Grant funds were made available as a result of a settlement between the state of Florida and the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Martin Memorial to help thousands of Treasure Coast residents quit using tobacco,” said Kate Stemle, corporate director of health and fitness centers for Martin Memorial. “This program can have a tremendous impact on the overall health of our community, because tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States.”

The grant allows Martin Memorial to provide free six-week smoking cessation classes in Martin and St. Lucie counties, a continuing medical education (CME) event for physicians, and the funds and resources necessary to help promote the programs throughout the community.

Martin Memorial is also receiving free nicotine replacement therapies (such as gum, patches and lozenges) for inpatients, physician office patients and program participants.

“This is an established program that has a proven track record of success,” said Marilyn Leeds, executive director of LORHN. “Tobacco users know there are many reasons to quit – including the impact on their health, their families’ health and the costs involved. This program can help them reach their goals of becoming tobacco free.”

Leeds was instrumental in identifying the grant opportunity for Martin Memorial, developing the program and securing the grant. LORHN is a non-profit organization that provides for the special and specific needs of the residents, visitors and businesses in Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.

In an effort to also help tobacco users increase their overall health as well, each individual who completes the Quit to Get Fit program will receive a free seven-session pass to one of Martin Memorial’s six health and fitness centers.

The first free public classes began in April, with three more sessions taking place in May and additional sessions forthcoming. Classes are taught by certified tobacco-cessation professionals and are held at a variety of times and locations for the convenience of attendees.

For more information, including class schedules and how you can sign up, please call (772) 287-QUIT (7848) or e-mail

(Pictured above: Joe Peters, executive director of the Everglades Area Health Education Center; Kate Stemle, director of health and fitness and the center for health and healing at Martin Memorial; Marilyn Leeds, executive director of the Lake Okeechobee Rural Health Network; and Mark Robitaille, president and CEO of Martin Memorial Health Systems at a community event in Port St. Lucie announcing the Quit to Get Fit program.)

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