Health and Wellness Services

HomeCare is a certified home health program that provides services to individuals of all ages who have a need for skilled nursing and/or social services in the home. It is designed to provide hands-on care, help individuals and families understand and manage their health problems, and learn ways to improve their health status whenever possible. The program is staffed with nurses, home care aides, and homemakers. Services are provided to individuals needing skilled care at home. Referrals must come through a physician. Services are covered by medical insurance. For more information, call 413.582.9500.

Wellness Coalition is dedicated to raising awareness of the health differences experienced by individuals with mental health and cognitive challenges. The Wellness Coalition seeks to improve the health of people with these challenges by equalizing access to quality health care through reducing stigma associated with these challenges, enhancing partnerships between helping professionals, advocates and consumers, and empowering community members affected by these challenges.
 

A Wellness Success Story

Helpline + Jelly Beans = Smoke-Free Success

Lisa Sargent was just nine years old when she smoked her first cigarette, and by age 14, she was a regular smoker. That was back in the early 1970s, and Lisa’s habit continued for another 20 years before she quit the first time.

“I was walking up a hill in Amherst with two of the outreach staff members, and had to stop every five steps just to catch my breath,” Lisa recalled.  “So right there, I took the cigarette pack out of my pocket, threw it down, stomped it into the ground, and swore I would never smoke again.”  That was September 1993. 

Three years later, on a cold December day, some friends were visiting Lisa in her apartment, and they talked her into letting them smoke.  Up to that point, she’d kept her place smoke-free.  “I told them to blow their smoke out the window,” she said, “and then after a little while decided to join them.  One cigarette wouldn’t hurt, I thought.  But boom!  Just like that, I was hooked again.”

Lisa continued smoking for another 16 years until she was hospitalized with double pneumonia over Christmas 2012.  “I was on the critical care unit,” she said, “and my sister and brother-in-law were there visiting me.  The doctor told them that, because of my asthma, if I didn’t quit smoking, I’d die. That was it for me.  I was ready to give up smoking again, but it wasn’t easy. 

“One of the meds I was on made me feel manic,” Lisa explained, “and all I wanted was a cigarette to help bring me down. That first weekend after I was discharged from the hospital, the cravings were really severe.  I called the QuitWorks hotline for support, and also talked to a friend of mine who was a recovering alcoholic.  My friend said to eat a jelly bean every time I got a craving, which helped a lot.  With jelly beans plus the phone calls, I made it through that weekend. It was pretty nasty, though.”

QuitWorks is the free smoking cessation program offered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  Thanks to Lisa’s own determination, plus the support she received from the program, she has remained smoke-free for the past four years.  Lisa’s asthma is improving, her oxygen levels are up, she has more energy in general, and she is able to walk for a longer time without getting winded.  “I can even handle being around smoke to some extent,” she noted.  “But the smell really bothers me now, and I can feel it in my lungs.” 

Lisa advises others who are thinking about quitting to keep at it and be patient with themselves. “If you quit and relapse, don’t kick yourself in the butt about it.  Just get back up and try again. Because it’s worth it.  Your life is worth it.” 

Lisa Sargent is an MHRS program colleague.