Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Charlie's Fund inspires quitters

Meet a few CoxHealth staffers who are kicking the tobacco habit

Rozlyn McTeer,
Trauma Services, Cox South

Rozlyn McTeer was getting weary of thinking of herself as a smoker. For years her son had asked her to quit. She had plenty of excuses: she enjoyed smoking; it meant downtime and relaxation; and, if she quit, she might gain weight. The truth was, she was addicted.

Late in 2013 she learned about increases in insurance premiums for tobacco users. She did the math. She couldn’t afford $180 a month for insurance and her $150 smoking habit. That was the final straw. On her last birthday, the pieces fell into place.

“I thought, ‘I have to do this now.’ It will be another year of my life of smoking if I don’t make a change,” says McTeer.

On Nov. 25, the 23-year smoker traded cigarettes for e-cigarettes. She used them during the day but now the e-cigarettes stay home. Slowly, she’s being weaned off nicotine. She feels better. Food tastes better and she’s more sensitive to the smell of smoke.

“If you are a non-smoker and you are around somebody smoking, it causes you to cough and hack and it smells disgusting. It’s not something I want to do,” says McTeer. “As a nurse, I understand the health risks. And I can walk into a room and tell who is a smoker by the look on their face and by the type of skin they have. I just don’t want to be identified by that anymore.”

McTeer wants to be a role model of good health for her son and her patients. Her goal is to be off nicotine altogether by this summer.

Kate and Dave Jones,
Cox Medical Center Branson

Kate and Dave Jones have both tried to quit smoking several times, but both agree this time is different. They say this time will work for them.

“I want it to work,” says Kate Jones, Lawson system administrator in Materials Management, Cox Branson. Kate recently completed the “Freedom From Smoking” course taught by Jim Brawner (above,with the Joneses).

“I made it this long and I’m not looking back. It feels different this time than all the other times before when I tried to quit.”

By her side during the class was her husband, Dave Jones, manager, Cox Branson Security. “It’s not going to work, it has worked. I am a non-smoker,” he says. “I have more time, energy and excitement from just knowing I’m a non-smoker.”

“I knew I had to quit after taking care of a friend with lung cancer until she passed away,” says Kate.

“She never gave cigarettes up. I decided I want to live and be healthy for myself, family and friends.” She also found the support of the cessation class a necessary supplement to her efforts.

“In the classes, I wasn’t judged as a bad person. I received support and lots of love and encouragement.” Kate offers this advice to other tobacco users who have not been successful in the past: “Try it with support. Who knows, it could work this time. Give yourself the freedom!”

Marc Holderfield,
Surgery, Cox Branson

Marc Holderfield promised his son that if he placed in state in wrestling, he’d quit chewing tobacco. Congratulations are in order as his son placed second in state and Marc has successfully quit.

“I want to raise my children and be able to see my grandchildren,” explains Holderfield, who works in Surgery at Cox Branson.

“I’ve tried multiple times to quit, but this time was different. It was a real mellow process we went through versus the high stress of going cold turkey.” Holderfield used a nicotine patch and nicotine gum to help.

“I had no idea that one can of chewing tobacco equals four packs of cigarettes,” says Holderfield. He says he is now saving $80 each month by kicking his habit. Furthermore, he’s saving his life.

“I have blood pressure problems and knowing the effect nicotine has on your blood vessels, it was time to quit.”

How to help

Charlie’s Fund offers a $1,000 incentive for staffers who remain tobacco-free during 2014. The fund is named for Charlie Edwards, the late father of CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards. 

“My dad tried everything possible to quit smoking. He never got it done,” Edwards says. “My father was the most honorable man I’ve ever known. He dedicated his career to health care, yet he struggled with smoking his entire life.”

As he was preparing to announce CoxHealth's tobacco policy change last fall, Edwards decided to pay tribute to his father and encourage others who are struggling with tobacco by creating the fund. Charlie's Fund was established through the CoxHealth Foundation with an initial donation from Edwards. In the following months, donations from hospital and community supporters have boosted the fund's total to more than $35,000.

Want to donate so more people can be inspired in 2015 and beyond? Here’s how:

Online at:

Or by payroll deduction in the employee giving program.