The faint and delicious aroma of dinner still lingered over the tables in the Shauck Auditorium of Carroll Hospital Center on Tuesday evening, but the nine guests were not just there to lounge or relax.
This was Date Night: Quit Smoking, the first in a trio of Carroll Hospital Center events taking place this week with a focus on smoking cessation and lung health. While meals were digesting, licensed acupuncturist Teal Beatty was explaining how acupuncture could complement pharmaceutical treatments for smoking cessation and how, if they wanted, she could demonstrate for them right there how five needles placed beneath the skin at five locations on their ears could help them. Most of those present agreed to let Beatty place the needles in their ears during a 20-minute guided meditation designed to help with addictions of any kind.
"The five pins release serotonin and dopamine in your brain and that makes you feel good, and reduces the cravings," Beatty said.
The hospital has long had a goal of helping Carroll residents quit smoking, said Melissa Murdock, a registered nurse and health navigator with the hospital and organizer of the event. This year, she said, it was decided to hold some events in conjunction with the annual Great American Smokeout on Thursday, a long-running smoking cessation campaign of the American Cancer Society, and that holding a Date Night event to kick things off made a lot of sense.
"Date Night is something we have done for the last couple of years with different health topics," she said. "We thought about doing it for the week of the Great American Smokeout because having a partner or support person can be an important ingredient for successfully quitting."
Pat Renald was there to support her husband, Michael, in quitting. He has been smoking for 50 years, while Pat said she has never even had a puff. After the acupuncture demonstration, she was excited to look into it as a new tool to help Michael stop smoking.
"It didn't hurt and definitely had some emotion with it," she said. "Actually, I am going to looking into the acupuncture for him to see if he needs help with smoking and some issues I have."
Michael took a pragmatic, long-term view.
"Anything will be a help," he said. "It's going to take me a while."
While Date Night was focused on helping couples or friends quit smoking, World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day at the hospital is being held from 1 to 4 p.m Wednesday to provide information for those with conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by smoking, according to Michele Burton, clinical coordinator at the hospital's pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and cystic fibrosis fall under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease umbrella, Burton said, and lead to decreased lung function. Wednesday's free event will feature vendor tables with information on medications and oxygen treatments as well as free lung function testing for those concerned about their lung health, Burton said.
"It is as simple as taking a deep breath in and blowing out hard into this machine, and it charts what's called a flow volume loop," she said. "They can take that flow volume loop to their doctor to get the proper diagnosis."
While the event is free, those interested in the lung testing should call 410-871-7000 before noon to preregister, though Burton said anyone interested should come to the event even if they miss the preregistration window.
On Thursday, the hospital will host a free walk-in smoking cessation clinic from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., staffed by smoking cessation counselors from the Carroll County Health Department, according to Murdock. Counselors will be on hand to do a "down and dirty" planning session to help those who want to quit develop a strategy for success.
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Having a strategy for quitting is essential for success, said Barbara White, director for the cigarette restitution fund program at the health department, and the counselor for Thursday's clinic.
"I want to help show people how to plan: When do you smoke? How do you smoke? What are your triggers? Planning really is key," she said. "People don't realize that it takes time to quit. Many times it's like losing weight."
Both the walk-in clinic and the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day event will be held in the hospital's Shauck Auditorium in the new east pavilion.
Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
• Today: World COPD Day, information on lung testing for those with obstructive lung disease, 2-4 p.m. at Shauck Auditorium in the Carroll Hospital Center East Pavilion, 291 Stoner Ave., Westminster. Free, but call 410-871-7000 to preregister for lung testing.
• Thursday, Nov. 20: Quit Smoking Walk-in Clinic, free smoking cessation counseling and vouchers for medication and nicotine replacement products, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Shauck Auditorium in the Carroll Hospital Center East Pavilion, 291 Stoner Ave., Westminster.