A kick in the butt

Palisades Medical Center helps smokers quit

Evelyn Arana, a post-doctoral research fellow, is conducting a study on Hispanic and Latino smokers.
Evelyn Arana, a post-doctoral research fellow, is conducting a study on Hispanic and Latino smokers.

North Hudson residents can now access free medication and counseling services to help them stop smoking and prevent disease.

Representatives from the Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center visited the North Bergen Public Library to announce two new programs that will provide free services to those looking to be treated for smoking addictions. Patients strive to be smoke-free after months of interpersonal work.

The programs were made possible thanks to two identical grants, awarded because of the hospital’s work in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

The first of the two programs is a study conducted in partnership with the Latino Cancer Disparities Center. Hispanic and Latino smokers will be given free help to determine the efficacy of providing counseling through text messages. Medical professionals want to find out if the method is cost effective and will reach a wider number of people than traditional methods.

Those conducting the study worked with a psychologist to create a text message library that is accessible to Spanish speakers.

How does the study work?

A pool of 618 people will be divided into two groups of 309. Both groups will receive periodic face-to-face counseling, a free 10-month supply of nicotine replacement therapy medications (gum, patch, etc.), educational materials, and phone calls.

The experimental group will also receive the text message counseling service, while the control group will not.

The program is free. Those participating must be Hispanic or Latino, smoke at least three days a week, are 21 or older, and know how to send and receive text messages.

Those who enroll will be required to choose a quit date, sign a consent form, and complete a survey at the beginning of the process.

“We hope to be seeing smokers by the beginning of March.” — Dr. Kristi Graves.

More help on the way

Funding was also provided by the North Bergen Health Department to the hospital, earmarked for two North Bergen centers which will provide free counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, and text message counseling to all smokers in northern New jersey.

“We hope to be seeing smokers by the beginning of March,” said Dr. Kristi Graves. “We’ll offer a hybrid method of counseling which includes face-to-face meetings, text messages, and nicotine replacement therapy.”

If you are one of the 70 percent of smokers who has a desire to quit, set up a time to enroll in either the study or one of the upcoming centers. Contact Maria Mansfield or Dora Ponce at 551-996-4242, or email info@decidetexto.com.

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.