Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio-Fildes, 2011 Healthcare Hero and Director of The Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline

THERE are people who are meant to live a life of altruistic service. They are people who dedicate their entire lives to helping and serving others, making vital contributions for the betterment of society.

One such individual, who has been making an impact in the lives of her fellowmen, is Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio Fildes Ed.D, Director of The Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline.

A Filipino-American who has made Las Vegas her home for more than 15 years now, Dr. Fildes has been honored as a 2011 Healthcare Hero in Nevada for making significant contributions to health care in the state. She was honored for her dedication to reducing tobacco dependency in the state.

Upon arriving in Nevada in 1997, Dr. Fildes established the only statewide nicotine dependence treatment program ,which treats all forms of tobacco dependence. Today, Nevada’s adult smoking rate has been reduced to 22 percent, due in part to her efforts.

Dr. Fildes was the first to use professional addiction counselors and incorporate spirituality into telephone-based counseling for nicotine dependence. The Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline has played a role in helping more than 33,000 Nevadans with their tobacco dependency.

For her outstanding work in Nevada, Dr. Fildes has received numerous awards and honors which includes the following:

– 2011 Healthcare Hero Award from the Nevada Business Magazine

– The Public Health Hero Award for her outstanding dedication to reducing tobacco use in the Southern Nevada Health District in 1999

– The Extra Mile Award from the Nevada Cancer Coalition for ensuring Nevadan access to nicotine dependence treatment.

– Nevada’s Governor commissioned her to serve on the Healthy Nevada Task Force from 1998 to 2006.

Dr. Elizabeth Fildes is a grant reviewer for the Health Resources and Services Administration, under the US Department of Health and Human Services. She was appointed to the Addictions Nursing Certification Board of the International Nurses Society on Addictions.

In an exclusive interview with the Asian Journal, Dr. Fildes explained what made her decide to set up the Nevada Tobacco User’s Helpline.

“When I came to NV, there were no professional nicotine addiction treatment services that are a accessible and immediately available to tobacco users who want to quit. This is an addiction, it has to be treated as a chronic disease. Addiction treatment takes time, work and commitment on the part of individuals who want to recover. Individuals who do not succeed on their own need to work with addiction treatment professionals available at the Nevada Tobacco Users’ Helpline,” she said.

The Nevada Tobacco User’s Helpline treatment services are patient-centered and evidence-based delivered by experienced professional addiction counselors. “We have worked with over 40,000 clients,” said the award-winning healthcare hero.

Dr. Elizabeth Fildes is an Associate Professor at Touro University School of Nursing and an Assistant Professor at the University Of Nevada School Of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. She teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs at Touro University Nevada School of Nursing.

Dr. Fildes’ research activities focus on the use of distance counseling technology to increase treatment access for individuals with nicotine addiction and co-occurring disorders in frontier, rural and underserved communities. Since 1998, she has presented on the effectiveness of distance counseling technology in local, regional, national and international conferences.

Origins and career

Born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Masbate, Dr. Fildes obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Santo Tomas School of Nursing in Manila, Philippines in 1979. She was selected to be a National State Scholar from 1974 to 1977 and participated in the Philippine Government Scholarship Program for Outstanding College Students.

She immigrated to the US in 1981,working as a nurse for a few years in New York. She then attended Teacher’s College at Columbia University, New York City, New York and in 1988 received her MA in Nursing Management. In 1998,she earned her Doctor of Education (EdD) from Loyola University in Chicago, IL.

“My husband John Fildes, MD was recruited by University Medical Center in Las Vegas to direct their Trauma Center. That was the reason we moved to Nevada. We have been here since 1997,” Dr. Fildes told Asian Journal.

Dr. Fildes admitted that she took up nursing because it was “an opportunity to help people become physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.”

She is the President of the Nevada Nurses Association southern district and works in many capacities, including the following positions:

– Associate Professor, Touro University Nevada School of Nursing

– Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada School Of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry where she shares her knowledge about nicotine addiction with medical students and residents;

– Chair, Wellness Integrated Recovery Division, Dept. of Psychiatry, UNSOM

– A consultant in the development of smoke-free hospital policies and nurses training at Las Vegas area hospitals;

– A member of the Planning Committee of the 2010 Statewide Summit to create a strategic plan for making sure every tobacco user in Nevada has access to smoking cessation treatment spearheaded by the American Lung Association;

– An advocate for all victims and survivors of nicotine addiction;

– A grant reviewer for the Health Resources and Services Administration under the US Department of Health and Human Services;

– A member of the Addictions Nursing Certification Board of the International Nurses Society on Addictions.

Conduit of goodness

In an article written by Mary Mackenzie in Nevada, Dr. Fildes gave this advice to nurses and those considering a nursing career. “Never forget to be a conduit of what is good in this world! Take care of yourselves first, you cannot give what you do not have. Nurses are healers…therefore, continue healing patients, their families, co-workers and environments that you find yourself in, with selfless expectations and in this process, realize and reflect on your own healing… be grateful for it! In gratitude… become joyful, let your light shine, and on the next day, do it all over again!”

Dr. Fildes sees her job as “being a conduit of God’s work in the creation and the operation of the Nevada Tobacco Users’ Helpline.”She also takes great pride and honor in teaching, and being given the opportunity to be a “transformational and servant leader.”

(balikbayanmag.com)

(LA Weekend May 26-29, 2012 Sec A pg.10)

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