As director of engineering, Tony Kuzawinski is responsible for plant operations, maintenance and facilities. On a typical day you’ll find him running all over Anne Arundel Medical Center’s medical park campus to meetings and inspections that help ensure a safe environment of care for patients, families and employees.
One day, he noticed he was having trouble keeping up with his boss, who always takes the stairs.
“We’d go up a couple flights of stairs and it felt like my heart was coming out of my chest,” says the 36-year-old who had been a pack-a-day smoker since age 14. “It would take me several minutes to catch my breath and be able to talk. When alone, I’d take the elevator.”
Tony had tried to quit several times, including three years ago when his daughter was born. Then, in early 2014, AAMC announced that starting July 2015 it would not hire people who use tobacco. Although the new policy would not affect him, it hit a nerve.
“I found myself defending the policy with family and friends about how it’s about helping people live healthier,” says Tony, who lives in Catonsville. Finally, a friend challenged him to practice what he preached: quit smoking once and for all.
So he did. Tony chose June 20—his birthday—as the day he would stop smoking. And he hasn’t looked back.
“I wanted do it—for my wife, for my kids and for my health,” he says.
Since quitting, his blood pressure has returned to normal. He can run up five flights of stairs and no longer gets winded carrying his kids up to bed at night. And, he’s inspired some of his colleagues to quit.
“Little things make a difference,” he says. “Make up your mind and do it. It’s not easy at first, but it gets easier. You can do it, but you have to want to do it.”