NAPLES, Fla. & NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--NCH Healthcare System, Blue Zones, LLC, and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) today announced the launch of the Blue Zones Project®, a major initiative to improve the well-being and longevity of residents of Collier and South Lee Counties in Southwest Florida. The Blue Zones Project brings together citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders to improve the living environment so healthy choices are natural and often unavoidable. NCH is bringing the Blue Zones Project to Southwest Florida in support of its 10-year vision to make the region an even healthier, happier and more vibrant place to live.
“As a leading steward of our region’s healthcare, NCH has a special responsibility to focus on population health and disease prevention,” said Allen Weiss, M.D., president and chief executive officer of NCH Healthcare System. “Our intent is to collaborate with other Collier and South Lee County organizations, large and small, to begin this rigorous and worthwhile journey toward becoming a Blue Zone — an area in which residents live longer, happier, healthier lives.”
The Blue Zones Project was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of communities across the globe where people were happily living the longest. Buettner uncovered nine evidence-based common denominators among these “Blue Zones,” such as moving naturally and having a sense of purpose. Buettner partnered with Healthways in 2009 to bring the Blue Zones Project to the United States and help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve overall well-being. These solutions have measurably lowered healthcare costs, increased productivity, and improved the quality of life for residents in those communities.
The Blue Zones Project in Southwest Florida follows successful projects sponsored in Albert Lea, Minnesota; Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, California; and the state of Iowa. Additional initiatives recently launched in Fort Worth, Texas, and the state of Hawaii. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® is the official measurement tool of the Blue Zones Project.
“I’m excited to work with NCH to blend proven Blue Zones approaches into the local traditions and practices already in place in Southwest Florida,” said Buettner. “In Blue Zones, centenarians don’t try to live to 100; rather, they live in cultures that make the healthy choice nearly inevitable. Our approach mirrors learnings from the initial Blue Zones communities in using evidence-based strategies to make the healthy choice easy. It’s difficult to change individual behaviors when community behaviors stay the same, and while we support individual responsibility, we will focus on permanent changes to the environment that will benefit all of the residents of Collier and South Lee Counties.”
As part of the Blue Zones Project, the counties will receive assistance from national experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environment, policy and social network changes that transition people into healthier behaviors. The project kicks off with a qualitative environmental analysis of the community that will take place between October 24 and November 7. During this period, the Blue Zones Project team will meet with key local leaders to identify the strengths and opportunities that will ultimately inform a phased implementation approach.
“Healthways commends NCH for its leadership in embracing innovative strategies such as the Blue Zones Project that enhance the quality of life of its constituents,” said Healthways president and CEO Ben R. Leedle, Jr. “Improved well-being has been scientifically validated to improve health and lower costs, and sustained well-being transformation depends on having a built environment and social policies that support and reinforce well-being improvement programs. In our other Blue Zones Project communities, we have seen first-hand the impact that the Blue Zones Project has on community well-being, and we are excited to share this important work with Southwest Florida.”
Collier and South Lee County residents interested in participating in the Blue Zones Project may learn more at https://collier.bluezonesproject.com.
About NCH Healthcare System
The NCH Healthcare System is a not-for-profit, multi-facility healthcare system located in Naples, Florida, United States. The System is more than just two hospitals (referred to as the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital, and NCH North Naples Hospital) with a total of 716 beds. The NCH Healthcare System is an alliance of 636 physicians and medical facilities in dozens of locations throughout Collier County and southwest Florida. The services offered by the NCH Healthcare System are extensive. Inpatient services include: medical, surgical, cardiac, orthopedic, obstetric, pediatric, rehabilitative, psychiatric, oncology, emergency treatment, and diagnostics. Outpatient services include: rehabilitation, home care, urgent care, wound healing, and more. This year the system had 36,000 admissions, 91,000 emergency room visits, 3,000 births, 386 open heart surgeries, 11,000 surgical procedures, and 3,900 employee colleagues. NCH is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. For more information, visit www.NCHmd.org.
About Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive — both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
Healthways is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.