Klamath County Receives RWJF Culture of Health Prize For Efforts to Improve Health and Well-Being

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (September 18, 2018) Klamath County, Oregon is one of four winners of the 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Prize honors communities for its unwavering efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.

Klamath County is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen from nearly 200 applicant communities across the country, Klamath County’s award-winning efforts include, collaborating to increase high school graduation rates, increasing access to fresh produce, and improving community health and safety.

“As a community, we are changing our story,” said Erin Schulten, Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Administrator for Klamath County Public Health. “We are no longer ‘Klamath County, last in the health rankings’. We are ‘Klamath County, Culture of Health Prize winner’.”

“The 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners understand good health requires far more than access to good health care. It requires a thriving community with access to quality education, good jobs, and safe, affordable housing,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “These inspiring places are engaging community members in decision making to give all residents the opportunity to live well, no matter where they live, how much money they make, or the color of their skin.”

“I know how diligently Klamath County has been working to improve the health of its residents, and this much-deserved prize is the result of a collaborative, community-wide effort,” said Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. “This prestigious award will allow the Healthy Klamath partnership to continue its impressive work providing resources and opportunity for everyone in Klamath to live their healthiest lives. Well done, to everyone involved in the Healthy Klamath effort.”

Klamath County will receive a $25,000 prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities, and have its inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. The other three winning communities are: Cicero, Illinois; Eatonville, Florida; and San Antonio, Texas.

Klamath County joins Columbia Gorge Region, as the second Oregon community to win the distinguished Prize.

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Klamath County had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria:

  • Defining health in the broadest possible terms.
  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.
  • Creating conditions that give everyone a fair and just opportunity to reach their best possible health.
  • Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
  • Securing and making the most of available resources.
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“Being among the country’s elite as a RWJF Culture of Health winner validates the hard work of countless people in our community to change attitudes regarding health and encourage the things that will help improve health,” said Tom Hottman of Sky Lakes Medical Center. “As a community, we realize that health is more than the absence of sickness. It’s also how we live and the choices we make.”

A community celebration will be held later this year to “bring the prize home” and provide an opportunity to highlight, celebrate, and reflect on our many community health improvement accomplishments.

Klamath County will join this year’s other Prize-winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey on October 9-11.

Learn more about Klamath County’s work, as well as this year’s other Prize winners through a collection of videos, photos, and more at www.rwjf.org/Prize.

Please find an audio recording of Sen. Merkley’s comment attached.



About the Healthy Klamath Coalition

The Healthy Klamath coalition is a multi-sector partnership comprised of dedicated community members and agencies focused on community health improvement efforts in Klamath County, Oregon. Since its formation in 2012, the coalition has implemented several policy, systems, and environmental changes to improve the health and well-being of our community members where we live, work, and play. For more information, visit www.healthyklamath.org.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.


About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu