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Spencer Hospital becomes state's first Blue Zones worksite

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spencer Hospital President Bill Bumgarner finally gets the blue ribbon cut (above), recognizing the hospital as Spencer's, as well as the state of Iowa's, first Blue Zones certified worksite. Hospital staff and local Blue Zones leadership team members participated in the ribbon cutting conducted at Grand Avenue Park. It took Bumgarner multiple attempts with the unsharpened Chamber of Commerce scissors to get the ribbon cut, generating a reaction from Candice Daniels, with the hospital's human resource department.
(Photos by Randy M. Cauthron)
Blue Zones Project Spencer announced the first employer in Spencer - as well as the state of Iowa - to become a certified Blue Zones Worksite Friday afternoon during an outdoor ceremony at Grand Avenue Park.

"The Blue Zones team is thrilled that Spencer Hospital has taken the initiative to become the first certified Blue Zones Worksite in Spencer," Alison Simpson, with the Spencer Blue Zones leadership team, said. "By completing the certification process, Spencer Hospital has demonstrated their commitment to create a healthier environment in which to work by supporting the well-being of their employees.

She added, "This is a big deal. The hospital is also the first out of the four demonstration sites. They're paving the way for health and well-being for their employees and the rest of the state."

It took Spencer Hospital President Bill Bumgarner a few attempts to cut through the blue ribbon, using a pair of large, dull scissors, but he got the job done, generating laughter and applause from a mixture of hospital staff and Spencer Blue Zones Demonstration Site leaders.

"It's just a little more exercise to help with the cardio," Candice Daniels, with the hospital's human resources office, said.

Spencer Hospital achieved certification status on Aug. 3, after completing the necessary items in the Blue Zones Project Worksite pledge, including successfully registering more than 25 percent of their employees to pledge and take action on www.bluezonesproject.com.

Spencer Hospital completed certification criteria in the areas of leadership, purpose, habitat and physical environment, engagement and creation of social networks, policies and benefits, and well-being solutions.

"We greatly value good health and well-being, and we strive to create an environment to assist our co-workers in achieving their good health goals," Bumgarner said. "We also support the local Blue Zones Project, which simply is working to make good health options an easier choice.

"A lot of good people have done a lot of good things," Bumgarner continued, noting the hospital has been promoting health to its employees for some time. "Blue Zones is really an opportunity to take that to the next level."

Daniels added, "There were a lot of people involved in the certification effort. We were doing a lot of it already. We're very excited to be the first Blue Zones worksite."

Spencer, Cedar Falls, Mason City and Waterloo are the initial four Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa. Spencer and the other communities are receiving assistance from national experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.

"Spencer is going to be a better place to live and raise a family because of this," Simpson said.

Sheriffa Jones, also with Spencer's Blue Zones leadership team, said 21 local businesses are currently working towards the Blue Zones worksite designation.

"Any business that wants to become a worksite, we'll work with them. The more we can get registered, the better everyone will be."

Length of time associated with the designation really depends on where a business is in terms of its existing health and well-being. A group of more than 20 people representing 18 different operations met on July 31 to go over the designation process.

"They all are going to come in at different stages of wellness and well-being," Jones said.

The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Dan Buettner and is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016 as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives by taking a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, social networks and the built environments where people spend their time.

For information about becoming a Spencer Blue Zones worksite, contact Jones at sheriffa.jones@healthways.com.

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