Summer 2011

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Gary Hawk's Legacy:

One Life Lost, Many More RescuedGARY  

Claudia Quinones, BA, CTTS

Tobacco Cessation Specialist


Gary Hawk

In the spring edition of the AHEC Quit Times newsletter, we introduced you to Mr. Gary Hawks, who after quitting cigarettes became a devoted advocate and group facilitator helping others quit tobacco use (click here to read an article about Gary).Sadly, Gary lost his battle to cancer in March, leaving behind not only his wife and two kids, but also scores of friends and co-workers who were the recipients of Gary's legacy of courage, hope and belief in our capacity to change.

Over 200 people attended Gary's memorial service to celebrate his life and commemorate his passionate efforts to get others to stop smoking. One Touch Direct, Gary's employer, made a commitment to continue their support of any employee who wants to quit by offering worksite Quit Smoking Now groups and standing behind the two employees who are soon to become facilitators themselves.

It is because of people like Gary, I am confident that what we do matters and some day in the not-so-distant future smoking will become only a historical reference.


 The USF Area Health Education Center Program connects students to careers, professionals to communities and communities to better health. We inspire, train, recruit, sustain and retain a diverse and broad range of health professionals to practice in communities where the need is greatest.

The USF AHEC Program began in 1993 and covers a nine-county area on the central west coast of the state from as far north as Citrus to as far south as Charlotte county. Community activities are carried out by our two local AHEC Centers, Gulfcoast North AHEC in Land O' Lakes serving Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and Gulfcoast South AHEC in Sarasota, which serves Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties.


We recruit talented, dedicated health professionals who want to make a difference in the community and match them with positions in medically underserved communities. And we support local healthcare practitioners who care for the medically underserved by providing resources such as technical assistance, library services and continuing education programs to help them meet their professional needs.

LeilaUSF AHEC Bids Farewell to Leila Martini

Anne Maynard, MPH, CHES

USF AHEC Program Director


Leila Martini

This June, Leila Martini, MLS, MPH, departed USF AHEC after almost four years as Assistant Director of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs to work with the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland developing public health preparedness programs.


In the time she has been with AHEC, Leila worked diligently with USF Health faculty in medicine, nursing, physical therapy and public health to incorporate on tobacco education and cessation training throughout the curricula. She championed USF Health's efforts to go smoke-free and recently has been working with USF's Tampa campus to help them make a similar transition. In addition, she forged creative new relationships with the university's Student Health Services, Counseling Center, and Employee Assistance Program to fight tobacco use on the USF campus.  

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AHEC Scholars Tackle Tobacco
in Worksites & Women

Vanessa Travieso, MA, CTTS
Tobacco Training & Continuing Education Coordinator
AHEC Tobacco Training & Education Program (ATTAC)
Continuing Education, In-service Programs 

This year, Gulfcoast North AHEC is hosting two teams of Interdisciplinary Community Health Scholars (ICHS) who will focus on projects related to tobacco cessation and prevention. The first team will work from the GNAHEC site in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and focus on creating a new curriculum that describes the process of leading establishments such as worksites toward becoming smoke-free. This team of students will research the dangers of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah and other nicotine containing habits and their cost to employers including sick leave and other healthcare expenses.  


First Team, L to R: Katherine Sohm (Nursing), Shawnticia Braddy (Psychology & Mass Com), Karmen Thomas (Public Health)

and Joshua Stramiello (Pre-Med)


Second Team, L to R: Naomi Docilait (Public Health), Krista Williams (Pharmacy) and Joshua Highsmith (Psychology-Pre-med)

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PASCOCOUNPasco County Government

Workers Choose to Quit Smoking!

Veronique Desautels, MBA, CHES, CTTS
Tobacco Cessation Specialist

Community Health Worker Programming

On April 14 this year, twenty-three employees from various Pasco County Government departments joined the worksite Quit Smoking Now Program, held at the Regency Library in New Port Richey.


What's so amazing about this group? These employees voluntarily decided to quit smoking for the betterment of their worksite, not because they were told to quit by their employers! They were simply ready to quit and wanted to make the commitment! Mr. Ben Diel, the personnel director for Pasco County Government, arranged for help from Gulfcoast North AHEC and supported the employees by attending sessions and following up with encouraging emails. 

Veronique, Nguen, Diel
From R to L: Ben Diel (Pasco Govt. Personnel, Veronique Polo (GSAHEC) and Hien Nguyen (AHEC Intern)

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BABYSHOWERCommunity Baby Shower

Celebrates Future Generation

Karla Brody, MSSW,
Tobacco Cessation Specialist

Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County celebrated Mother's Day by collaborating with the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota to present the 17th Annual Community Baby Shower! The Community Baby Shower is held annually to provide education, information and gifts to pregnant women and families in our community. Over 120 families attended this fun and free event, held at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, bringing the total number of participants to more than 300 people.  


Families attending the GSAHEC Community Baby Shower get to see "Smokers Lungs" model


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SECONDHANDFlorida Students Collaborate to Expose the

Truth about Secondhand Smoke

Colleen A. Johnson, GSAHEC ICHS 

Although the majority of adults nowadays know about the dangers caused by smoking, many are not aware of the part which secondhand smoke plays in health problems. Secondhand smoke (SHS) is the smoke exhaled by a smoker, as well as the smoke given off by a burning cigarette or cigar, and is just as dangerous as smoking itself. Because of the lack of education about the dangers of SHS, and the subsequent lack of knowledge, parents, friends and co-workers continue to smoke around their non-smoking companions. 


GSAHEC ICHS L to R: Collen Johnson, Kevin Almassian, Andrea Keush, David Sindler, Nataliya Pruss and Robert Blackwood


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