Contact: Thomas Hottman
A couple of organizations whose roots stretch well beyond Klamath County took significant strides forward in recent days which should produce welcome benefits for the area.
Both deal with health and since Klamath County is chronically one of the worst — if not the worst — counties in the state in good health practices, it can use the help.
Though it's an area of wonderful opportunities for outdoor recreation that includes hiking, running, biking, fishing and hunting without having to go far to find great venues, the county manages to have high rates of poor health practices — such as smoking and obesity.
In addition, it's also on the "rural" side of the urban-rural divide that even while it provides glorious places to live, finds it difficult to attract medical personnel.
One of the organizations we're talking about is the Oregon Health & Sciences University, which has established a Rural Campus Academic Headquarters in Klamath Falls to train medical personnel who have a specific interest in rural life and the medical problems that can come with it. The rural training ground gives them a chance to sample the lifestyle and, perhaps, encourages them to stay in Klamath County or in another rural location. OHSU and local officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cascades East Family Medicine at Sky Lakes Medical Center Monday.
Six students began in the program Sept. 28.
The other program is the Blue Zones Project, which recently appointed its local staff, and is active in helping Klamath Falls become a better place to live through health measures such as improving recreational opportunities, but also in looking at ways that make the city more attractive.
Under discussion have been such things as beautifying downtown alleys, adding more trees, redesigning the city's traffic flow and making the city more bike-friendly. Healthways Inc., is leading the change and last week announced its local staff.
Sky Lakes Medical Center is providing $600,000 spread over three years which will generate $1.2 million in matching funds from Cambria Health Foundation for the Blue Zone Project. As part of its 50th anniversary, and in addition to its contribution to the Blue Zone Project, the medical center earlier this year announced $1.5 million in gifts to the community to support such heath-focused facilities and organizations as the Klamath Trails Alliance, Ella Redkey Pool, downtown green spaces and Kit Carson Park.
Obviously, the interest, and the need for community improvement existed at the local area and the Blue Zone Program found fertile ground.
Two steps forward by two quality organizations. It's been a good week.