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Blue Zones Project Launches in Parkland and Spanaway in Washington State

Dec. 8, 2022

Project aims to transform the well-being of all residents

MultiCare Health System, Pierce County, and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health announce the launch of Blue Zones Project in Parkland and Spanaway.

The Blue Zones Project is a first-of-its-kind population health initiative that uses an evidence-based approach to transform the environments in which people live, work, learn, and play to measurably improve community well-being, economic vitality, and resilience.

Blue Zones Project success is fueled by the principle that good health is a community effort, and Parkland and Spanaway already have a strong start: the well-being initiative is brought to the region by a unique collaboration between two leading health systems (MultiCare and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health) and Pierce County. This public-private partnership is a model for what other cities and states can do with the right forward-thinking leadership.

County Executive Bruce Dammeier said, “I am very excited for our Blue Zones initiative to move forward in the Parkland and Spanaway communities. Not only will this work promote improved health and well-being for the residents, but it will also leverage existing local organizations to strengthen community and connection!”

Research indicates where people live has a bigger influence on health than genetics, so the Blue Zones Project focuses on the single largest determinant of health: the place we live. The initiative tackles the “zip code effect” by optimizing public policies, social connections, and the places and spaces where people spend the most time (streets, parks, schools, workplaces, grocery stores, faith communities, homes) so that healthy choices are easy and accessible.

By focusing on the Life Radius®—the area close to home where people spend 90% of their lives—the Blue Zones Project has been able to move the needle: participating communities have seen double-digit drops in obesity and smoking rates, economic investment in downtown corridors, grant-funding awards to support policies and programs aimed at improving health equity, and millions of dollars of savings in healthcare costs.

“Our mission of partnering for healing and a healthy future calls us to collaborate with organizations committed to improving the health status of communities where we live, work, and play. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to live a healthy, active, and productive

life. By partnering with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and Pierce County to bring the Blue Zones Project to Parkland and Spanaway, we are building a stronger, more equitable community that will benefit our entire county,” said Bill Robertson, CEO of MultiCare.

“Everyone has the right to be healthy, and it shouldn’t depend on our zip code, economic status, or the color of our skin. As we strive to improve the health and well-being of the various populations we serve, particularly for the most vulnerable, we are dedicated to finding new and equitable approaches and strategies to building healthy communities,” said Ketul J. Patel, CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. “This is an incredible opportunity to address healthcare disparities in these neighborhoods, and support important growth initiatives that will provide for the long-term sustainability of care, while creating healthier populations for generations to come.”

“We applaud the bold leaders for coming together in this collaborative public-private partnership for the greater good. We look forward to working together to create a culture and place that gives everyone the chance to live a healthy and happy life,” said Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones and Co-founder of Blue Zones Project.

The launch of Blue Zones Project Parkland-Spanaway represents the beginning of a multi-year collaborative effort that involves the entire community working together toward one common goal – to support and build a culture of community health and well-being. All residents of Parkland and Spanaway are welcome and encouraged to take part in Blue Zones Project programs and offerings, starting with signing up for the newsletter here: bluezones.com/bzpparklandspanaway.

About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author who identified five cultures of the world—or blue zones—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being.

Blue Zones launched the first pilot community in 2009 in Albert Lea, MN with groundbreaking results. In partnership with Sharecare, the model has since been applied to more than 70 communities across North America, impacting more than 4.5 million citizens. The population health solution includes two Health Districts in California; 15 cities in Iowa; the city of Fort Worth, Texas; Corry, Pennsylvania; Brevard, North Carolina; Walla Walla Valley, Washington; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. For more information, visit bluezones.com/services/blue-zones-project.

About MultiCare

MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 20,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. MultiCare has been caring for our community for well over a century, since the founding of Tacoma’s first hospital, and today is the largest community-based, locally governed health system in the state of Washington. MultiCare’s comprehensive system of health includes numerous primary care, urgent care and specialty services — including MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care, Pulse Heart Institute and  MultiCare Rockwood Clinic, the largest multispecialty clinic in the Inland Northwest region.

MultiCare’s network of care includes 11 hospitals:

MultiCare Allenmore Hospital, Tacoma 
MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, Auburn 
MultiCare Capital Medical Center, Olympia 
MultiCare Covington Medical Center, Covington 
MultiCare Deaconess Hospital, Spokane 
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, Puyallup 
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Tacoma  
MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, Tacoma 
MultiCare Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley 
Navos Behavioral Health Hospital 
Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital

About Pierce County

Nearly 1 million residents live in Pierce County, the second largest county in the state of Washington. Our mission is to build strong communities that people are proud to call home. From the top of towering Mt. Rainier to the sparkling shores of Puget Sound, and everywhere in between, Pierce County is an amazing place to live, work and raise a family. Learn more at piercecountywa.gov.

About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is an integrated health system serving the Puget Sound region of Washington state, offering access to some of the country’s most prestigious experts and hospitals that are internationally known for superior quality. With a team of 18,000 team members, including nearly 5,000 employed physicians and affiliated providers, we unite the brightest health care minds in the region to provide world-class clinical excellence at 11 hospitals and nearly 300 sites of care throughout the Puget Sound area. We are proud to be the home of Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, and Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research. We embrace our community’s uniquely vibrant, active culture by providing holistic, personalized, and patient-centered care. We are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, including the poor and underserved, providing more than $300 million in community benefit – free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health was formed in 2021 by bringing together two leading health systems in Washington state. Our family of hospitals includes Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle; St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; St. Michael Medical Center, Silverdale and Bremerton; St. Anne Hospital, Burien; Rehabilitation Hospital, Tacoma; and Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital, Tacoma.

Contacts:

Blue Zones
Naomi Imatome-Yun
[email protected]
917-952-8534

MultiCare
[email protected]
253-777-1528

Pierce County
Libby Catalinich
[email protected]
253-798-6606

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
[email protected]
253-382-3889