Blue Zones Project Success- Ribbon Ceremony

Klamath Tribes- First Tribe Approved in Pacific Northwest

By JOHANNA BERNHARD H&N Staff Reporter, and TAYLOR TUPPER KLAMATH TRIBES News Department

Photo by: Taylor R. Tupper- Klamath Tribes News Dept. Left to Right: Erin Tecumseh, Klamath Tribes Wellness Team Member and Tribal Health Diabetes Prevention Coordinator, Dr. Gerald Hill, Tribal Member and member of the Klamath Tribes Health Advisory Committee and Portland Area Indian Health Board, Don Gentry, Klamath Tribal Chairman, Shawn Jackson, Director of Tribal Health Planning and Education, Martha Decker-Hall, Klamath Tribal Health Wellness Team. Back row: Will Hess, Klamath Tribal Health Wellness Team, and Jessie Hecocta, Organization Lead with the Klamath Falls Blue Zones Project. The cutting of the blue ribbon at a ceremony Wednesday recognized the Klamath Tribes Health and Family Services as Blue Zones Project approved. The ceremony was held at tribal headquarters in Chiloquin, Oregon.

“mo ben dic hosIntemblek” – To be in good health again

Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services (KTHFS) became the first tribal organization in the Pacific Northwest to become Blue Zones Project approved on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. KTHFS, a primary care health center owned and operated by the Klamath Tribes, is responsible for providing healthcare services to the Native American population living in Klamath County.

On Wednesday afternoon, KTHFS employees, the Klamath Tribal Council and members of the Klamath Falls Blue Zones Project gathered at the tribal headquarters in Chiloquin to recognize the organization’s success with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

KTHFS began working to become Blue Zones approved in May 2016, after Tribal Chairman Don Gentry proposed the idea, while working with former Tribal Health Employee, now Blue Zone Organizational Lead, Jessie Hecocta. While the organization already had various health practices in place, it created a wellness committee to promote more healthy choices and well-being for its employees, wellness committee member Martha Decker-Hall said. “We found that it was a good fit as a lot of the best practices we had already adopted as an organization,” she said. “It went fast for us because we were already on that path.”

From the outset, the wellness committee implemented a series of healthy steps, including standing or walking meetings to encourage movement throughout the day; the installation of equipment offering health benefits, such as standing desks, wireless headsets and exercise balls; and posting positive messages throughout the offices, Director of Health Planning and Education Shawn Jackson said.

Photo by Taylor R. Tupper – Klamath Tribes News Dept.

The 121 KTHFS employees are also given 30 minutes of wellness time every day, which they can use to “do something healthy to energize themselves.” Some staff opt to go for a walk on the trail, while others use the weight room, Jackson said. “It feels great that we have been approved,” he said. “A healthy employee is a happy employee.”

Blue Zones Project Organization Lead Jessie Hecocta, who works closely with KTHFS, recognized the organization’s achievements and the wellness committee’s future plans before presenting Jackson, the wellness committee team leader, with the Blue Zones Project certificate. “The Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services are working hard at changing some of the risk factors that affect our tribal nations,” she said. “What they have realized is they can’t help people be well if their employees are not well themselves.”

Hecocta added that the wellness committee are looking to provide a space for breastfeeding and pumping and will restructure the organization’s current fitness policy to make it work around employee’s schedules. The Blue Zones Project will also hold an overall well-being assessment of the organization to ensure it stays on track and achieves its healthy goals. As an enrolled tribal member of the Klamath Tribes and passionate about well-being, Hecocta said she is proud the tribe wants to move in a healthier direction. As the first Blue Zones approved tribal organization in the Pacific Northwest, she said KTHFS has the opportunity to act as a guide for other services across the country.

What is required to be Blue Zone Approved and what has the Klamath Tribal Health Team been up to?

Key Best Practices Implemented by Klamath Tribal Health’s Wellness Team:

  • Formed a diverse wellness committee to promote workplace well-being
  • Encouraged standing or walking meetings to encourage greater movement throughout the day
  • Hosted a Purpose Workshop for all-staff to assist employees in defining their purpose; in both work and community
  • Encouraged well-being equipment that offers greater health benefits while working such as; standing desks, wireless headsets, and balance balls
  • Encouraged well-being in the workplace with positive messaging throughout the offices

Who is currently on the Klamath Tribal Health Wellness Team?

Shawn Jackson, Erin Tecumseh, Shannon Jones, Nick Kimbol Jr., Martha Decker-Hall, Will Hess and Rebecca Jackson.

Key Upcoming Implementations the Health Team will be working on:

  • Well-being assessment of the organization overall
  • Working directly with IT to encourage pop-up movement cues
  • Provide a space for downshifting; which also offers space for breastfeeding or pumping
  • Create a well-being logo tied to employee well-being program initiatives
  • Review of the current Fitness Policy to be flexible to employee’s schedules
    Blue Zone Leaders and Tribal Health Team Left to Right: Jessie DuBose, Dr. Gerald Hill, Jackie Guiley, Martha Decker-Hall, Erin Tecumseh, Shawn Jackson, Jessie Hecocta, Merritt Driscoll, Will Hess, and Cort Cox.
  • Q: What’s happening in Klamath Falls?

    On behalf of Oregon Healthiest State, Cambia Health Foundation, and Sky Lakes Wellness Center, the Blue Zones Project® has been invited to Klamath Falls to conduct a community readiness assessment in order to ascertain the interest, readiness and opportunities for success in undertaking a Blue Zones Project community transformation initiative. The assessment work will culminate in a report summarizing the opportunities and challenges for the community. The report will be used to inform a Blue Zones Project community implementation Blueprint and work plan.

    Q: What is the Blue Zones Project?

    Blue Zones Project® is a community-wide well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier. We do this by encouraging sustainable changes in our built environment and social networks, often suggesting policy and programmatic changes throughout our community including such places as worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, faith-based organizations and neighborhoods. By helping people live longer and better through behavior change, communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity, and enjoy a higher quality of life as they live, work, learn, worship and grow. The program is based on principles identified during an eight-year worldwide longevity study commissioned by National Geographic and detailed in the New York Times best-seller, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner.

    Q: Where did the concept of the Blue Zones Project come from?

    The Blue Zones Project is inspired by research about the regions of the world with the highest concentrations of centenarians (people who live to be 100 years or older). There are five Blue Zones regions: Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; and Ikaria, Greece. These areas share nine common traits that contribute to people’s longevity, called the Power 9®, and you can learn more about them in National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times best-selling book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

    Q: What are the goals of Blue Zones Project?

    The project seeks to improve the overall well-being of Klamath Falls residents. Well-being is a measure of a person’s overall physical, social and emotional health. Higher well-being leads to lower healthcare costs, higher productivity and increased economic vitality, and offers benefits for everybody.

    Q: Where does the Tribe go from here?

    With continued support and leadership from the Blue Zone Team, the Klamath Tribes hopes to continue to grow and expand into other areas of the Klamath Tribes and our Businesses. We are committed to well-being.

  • Klamath Tribal Council hosted the Blue Zone Award Ceremony at Tribal Administration Headquarters, February 22, 2017Klamath Tribal Council Front Row: Brandi Hatcher, Treasurer; Don Gentry, Chairman; Gail Hatcher, Vice-Chairwoman; Roberta Frost, Secretary.

    Klamath Tribal Council Members: Jeannie McNair, David Ochoa, Perry Chocktoot, Kathleen Hatcher-Mitchell, Devery Saluskin, and Steve Weiser

    For more information contact about the Tribal Health Team and Blue Zone Progress contact:

    Shawn Jackson- Director of Health Planning and Education

    Klamath Tribal Health Family Services

    541-882-1487 ext. 220

    Klamath Tribal Council hosted the Blue Zone Award Ceremony at Tribal Administration Headquarters, February 22, 2017
    Klamath Tribal Council Front Row: Brandi Hatcher, Treasurer; Don Gentry, Chairman; Gail Hatcher, Vice-Chairwoman; Roberta Frost, Secretary.
    Klamath Tribal Council Members: Jeannie McNair, David Ochoa, Perry Chocktoot, Kathleen Hatcher-Mitchell, Devery Saluskin, and Steve Weiser

    For more information contact about the Tribal Health Team and Blue Zone Progress contact:
    Shawn Jackson- Director of Health Planning and Education
    Klamath Tribal Health Family Services
    541-882-1487 ext. 220