Mission Message

Taking on Tobacco Use

Sue Nilsson walking down a path in Lester Park, Duluth, MN
Freedom – that’s how Sue Nilsson describes one of the best parts of quitting smoking after more than 50 years of tobacco use. Sue began a new, healthier chapter in her life when she met with a tobacco treatment specialist at Essentia Health. Together, they formed a strong relationship and celebrated each milestone in Sue’s journey to quitting. “I think you have to make the decision and then do it – want it more than anything,” Sue says.

Face-to-Face Counseling is Key to Success

Addressing community health concerns such as tobacco use ties directly to Essentia’s mission: We are called to make a healthy difference in people’s lives. By helping others quit smoking, we can have a profound effect on their health and quality of life.

Overcoming a tobacco addiction is challenging. That’s why Essentia offers access to 53 certified tobacco treatment specialists at clinic and hospital locations across the organization, from Jamestown, North Dakota, to Hayward, Wisconsin. Convenient and compassionate face-to-face counseling, along with cessation medication, greatly improve a patient’s chance for long-term success.

Essentia’s approach to reducing tobacco use has a community focus as well. Essentia coordinated training for about 20 tobacco treatment specialists who represent a variety of community organizations. Thanks to Essentia’s investment, residents have more options outside Essentia to receive counseling, expanding the opportunities to make a healthy difference. “We want to meet people where they already are – the more we can engage community partners, the better,” says Jill Doberstein, Essentia’s tobacco treatment program manager.

One community partner is the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, where Samantha Martin is a health educator and certified tobacco treatment specialist. She and about a dozen pharmacists offer tobacco cessation counseling, with an emphasis on a culturally sensitive curriculum. She notes the service is especially valuable considering that 59 percent of Native Americans in Minnesota use commercial tobacco.

Mural by artist Karen Savage

This colorful mural by artist Karen Savage-Blue greets students at South Ridge School in Culver, Minnesota. Named “The Good Road,” the artwork represents finding a path to balance and health. It also recognizes the sacred tradition of ceremonial tobacco use in Native American tribal communities, rather than commercial use.

Martin says the counseling, combined with medication, is appreciated by band members. “They said it was convenient, quick and they felt comfortable,” Martin says. “We will see one person and they will refer 10 people to the program.” Now, she’s working to set up group cessation classes.

Along with visits to clinics and community locations, Essentia helps patients start down the path to quitting when they are hospitalized. The innovative program connects patients to counseling and medication from their hospital bed, which aids in healing and recovery and makes it easy to continue to get help after discharge.

“We are paving the way with this,” says Doberstein, who speaks at national conferences about Essentia’s approach. “The research clearly shows you get the best outcomes with face-to-face counseling, and we want to make that as convenient as possible.”

CEO David Herman, MD

A Message From Essentia CEO
David C. Herman, MD

I hope you enjoyed our new “Mission Message,” a quarterly report on the ways we live out Essentia’s mission and make an impact on pressing community health concerns. Our first issue focuses on reducing tobacco use, from convenient, personalized counseling to advocacy efforts that help prevent smoking among young people in the first place.

I’m proud to be part of an organization that’s guided by such a powerful mission: We are called to make a healthy difference in people’s lives. I like to point out that our mission says “people,” rather than “patients.” It’s our privilege and obligation to serve our entire community, not only those who are patients at Essentia Health.

Instead of creating a traditional annual report, which focuses on a snapshot in time, we will use our Mission Message to share our ongoing efforts to make a healthy difference in our communities. I welcome your ideas for future topics that resonate with you and your neighbors. Please check back in a few months for more insight on how we live our mission every day here at Essentia.

Quality | Hospitality | Respect | Joy | Justice | Stewardship | Teamwork

Convenient Tobacco Cessation Services

Receiving medication and face-to-face counseling at Essentia Health makes you three times as likely to quit tobacco for good compared with phone counseling alone.

Learn more about tobacco cessation
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