Ministry Medical Group

Financial Review


The First Breath Program is a smoking cessation program for expectant mothers, sponsored by the state of Wisconsin. It helps women by integrating cessation strategies into existing prenatal care models, including public health services and private health care clinic appointments. Wisconsin ranks 18th-worst in the nation in rates of smoking during pregnancy.

Goals of the program include*:

  • Increasing the number of pregnant women who quit smoking
  • Reducing the amount of smoking among pregnant women who are not able to quit
  • Improving the health of newborns
  • Decreasing the rate of relapse among mothers after they deliver

Since spring 2006, expectant mothers who visit Ministry Medical Group’s OB/GYN department in Stevens Point have been informed about the program by Louise Thauer, NP. Thauer explains the program at the patient’s first nurse obstetrical visit and enrolls the patient in the program if there is an interest.

The physicians and medical assistants in the OB/GYN department continue to provide encouragement, follow-up and education about smoking cessation during and after pregnancy. Support for the patient continues postpartum by Amy Bakken, RN, and Lora Harris, RN, both of Saint Michael’s Hospital. The First Breath program is not only assisting women, it’s lowering health care costs. For every $1 spent providing counseling and services to help pregnant women quit smoking, $6 is saved in health care costs. For example, between $1,142 and $1,358 is saved per pregnancy for each pregnant smoker who quits.* The pediatrics department assists with postpartum data collection when the patient brings in the newborn. It also provides information to the moms on how to continue to stay smoke-free.

*Information from Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation Web Site

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