Profile of the Week: Strong Women

Strong Women

The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Women begin to show decline in muscle mass beginning at age 30 and if this condition is not reversed, women will have reduced strength and other severe consequences as they age. Women need to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass at all ages for optimal health through weight lifting two or more times per week,  but only 17.5% of women meet these recommendations. The Strong Women program, developed by Tufts University, is designed for women to increase muscle strength by strength training for 2-3 sessions per week for fourteen weeks. This strength training program is now being offered through MSU Extension offices in Montana, and the results have been inspiring.  Participation, improved functional strength and balance, and a strong sense of camaraderie and achievement are positive outcomes for Montana’s rural women. These trainings are conducted by Extension educators who have been certified to teach Strong Women programs.

About Strong Women:
The StrongWomen™  program is an evidence-based strength training program developed by the staff of  the Hancock Center at the Friedman School at Tufts University. The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Who should attend trainings:
* Professional and community leaders who are working with a non-profit and are interested in the fields of public health, nutrition and exercise or wellness should attend.

* Potential program leaders should be regularly lifting weights/strength training, be in good physical health, and be able to collaborate with local agencies or organizations to provide the Strong Women program in their community.


For a list of all locations and contact information, click here

RHI’s 2013 Rural Health Success Story Contest Winner: Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Disaster Preparedness Drill

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center hosted the first regional inter-facility full-scale exercise ever initiated in Lake County. The scenario involved multiple agencies including, Lake County OEM, EMS, Police from multiple jurisdictions, Search & Rescue, Fire, American Red Cross, St. Luke’s Hospital, Spartan Consulting, St. Patrick’s Hospital, ALERT and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Public and Tribal Health, Salish Kootenai College, Tribal OEM, and many more.


The Lake County Active Shooter 2013 Full-Scale Exercise was developed to test participating agencies Public Information & Warning, Operational Coordination, Operational Communications and Public Health & Medical Services capabilities in response to an Active Shooter incident resulting in multiple casualties and fatalities. The exercise was developed by Spartan Consulting with input, advice, and assistance from representatives from the Lake County exercise design team and followed the guidance set forth in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

  • Objective 1: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Information & Warning capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 2: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Coordination capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 3: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Communications capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 4: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Health & Medical capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.

Public Information & Warning

Strength 1: Use of Public Information Officers (PIO) – All participating agencies either had a pre-designated PIO or appointed one during the incident to manage public information.

Strength 2: Tie in with local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – Due to the active LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) in Lake County, designated PIOs knew to get in touch with the OEM staff (EOC) to coordinate public information activities


Operational Coordination

Strength 3: Participation – Excellent participation from the community in terms of volunteers and participating agencies.

Strength 4: Preparation – Evaluators at each venue were impressed by the level of preparation participating agencies had accomplished since the tabletop exercise in March 2013.

Strength 5: Use of incident management tools and visual aids – ICS vests, wall charts, START Triage tools (tags, tarps, etc.).

Strength 6: Safety – All exercise participants were mindful of doing things safely and as a result there were no real-world injuries reported during the exercise.

Operational Communications

Strength 7: Communications between the scene and St. Joe’s.

Strength 8: Communications between Fire and ALERT and ALERT & St. Luke’s/St. Joe’s

Public Health and Medical Response

Strength 12: Effective management of the patient surge by local hospitals – Key buy in and participation from hospital leadership, training and exercises prior to this activity, a commitment to using the Hospital ICS system, well-planned use of available space and personnel, good motivation and willingness to help by staff, and a smoothly managed Hospital Command Center (HCC) all contributed to supporting the technical expertise of the ED staffs in managing the patient surge. Although St. Luke’s did have minimal staffing due to the weekend and had to respond to a real world incident, St. Joe’s was able to handle the extra workload and prove that the local healthcare system can and will work together effectively.

This project was spearheaded by our Plant Manager Camilla Yamada, who is also our Safety Officer.  The preparation time and energy spent by the  health care facilities, law enforcement, the Tribal College & Law Enforcement Services, Emergency Services and city & county agencies in our valley speaks volumes about the commitment level that we are willing to meet in the effort to make our communities a safer place to live.  We are very fortunate to work with such dedicated and proactive professionals.

Rural Health Success Story Contest 2012 Honorable Mention: Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures™’ Recognition from The Joint Commission

 Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures™’ Recognition from The Joint Commission

Polson September 19, 2012 Providence St. Joseph Medical Center today was named one of the nation’s Top Performers on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America. Providence St. Joseph Medical Center was recognized by The Joint Commission for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke and venous thromboembolism, as well as inpatient psychiatric services.

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center is one of 620 hospitals in the U.S. earning the distinction of Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance, and was recognized for its achievement on the following measure set: Surgical Care. The ratings are based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported to The Joint Commission during the 2011 calendar year.


“We understand that what matters most to patients at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center is safe, effective care. That’s why Providence St. Joseph Medical Center has made a commitment to accreditation and to positive patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes. Providence St. Joseph Medical Center is proud to be named to the list of The Joint Commission’s Top Performers on Key Quality Measures,” says James Kiser, Chief Executive.

“When we raise the bar and provide the proper guidance and tools, hospitals have responded with excellent results,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. “This capacity for continual improvement points toward a future in which quality and safety defects are dramatically reduced and high reliability is sought and achieved with regularity. Such day-to-day progress will slowly but surely transform today’s health care system into one that achieves unprecedented performance outcomes for the benefit of the patients.”

Brooke Duty

Community Education Coordinator

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center



Native H.Y.P.E. Camp

What is Native H.Y.P.E.?

Native H.Y.P.E. is a leadership program for American Indian students in Montana, Wyoming or closely surrounding areas. Approximately 40 middle school students, entering 6th – 8th grade, will be selected to participate in Native H.Y.P.E. from July 8th-12th on the Salish-Kootenai campus in Pablo, MT. Each student selected will be provided meals and lodging during the entire program. Transportation may be available and details will be provided to students who are accepted to participate. Parents are invited to attend the entire program.

Native H.Y.P.E. will promote healthy decision making, positive peer communication, healthy

relationships, culture and tradition, physical activity and focus on empowerment. Native H.Y.P.E. will

also explore healthcare through exciting hands on experiences led by current healthcare professionals.

What are the requirements to participate in Native H.Y.P.E.?

  • Students must be in middle school – entering into the 6th, 7th or 8th grade for the 2012/2013 school year.
  • Students must live in Montana and Wyoming, or closely surrounding areas.
  • Students must agree to abide by all Native H.Y.P.E. policies.

All students will be selected by a committee comprised of members of the Native H.Y.P.E. planning

group. The selection committee plans to have representation from each reservation and urban area and will review all applications for:

  • Leadership questions – answer strength
  • Completion of all requirements
  • Neatness
  • Timeliness

What is the application process for Native H.Y.P.E.?

1. Application must be received in the Billings Area Indian Health Service Office no later than 5:00

pm on May 17th. 

2. Applications must be easy to read and fully completed. Please call or e-mail if you have any

questions on the application – Michelle Brown – (406) 247-7116 or

3. The Native H.Y.P.E. selection committee will select approximately 40 participants based on

gender and regional representation.

4. Letters notifying applicants of the selection committee results will be mailed by June 4th


Women 4 Wellness Health Fair

5th Annual Women 4 Wellness Health Fair


Next year’s fair will be May 15th, 2014 from 10 am to 4:30 pm

Joe McDonald Health & Fitness Center at Salish Kootenai College

Join in on a full day of health-related booths with free screenings ranging from cholesterol to strokes.

Women 4 Wellness is an opportunity for women to visit with hundreds of vendors about their health concerns.  In 2012, 124 vendors participated in the health fair providing numerous FREE screenings, drawings and consultations.  While this is the 5th year of the health fair, their goal is to make the health fair sustainable through community involvement.  Currently, most funding to provide this event is through grant funds, but the grant world is ever-changing.

Key successes attributed to the health fair include identification of cancer(s), stroke/heart attack issues, and weight management issues.  The organizers of Women 4 Wellness have changed lives and saved others by putting on this health fair.  Each year more and more medical providers donate their services and expertise to hundreds of participants.  To see what screenings were offered last year, click here: 2012 W4W Fact Sheet

In 2012, 1,299 participants registered for the health fair, a W4W record!  Women from the age of 2-92 participated, and the average age of participants was 42. Of those in attendance 52% had attended a W4W conference before.  While women are the targeted audience, men are more than welcome to participate, last year 82 men joined in the fun.   To see the incredible statistics from the 2011 Women 4 Wellness Health Fair, click here: 2011 Participant Stats


Want to learn more? 

Please visit their website:

or Contact: Niki Graham, Director of Center for Prevention & Wellness

at 406.275.4920 or


Montana FoodCorps & Grow Montana

Montana’s FoodCorps is a team of young leaders fighting the childhood obesity epidemic by helping K-12 schools serve more locally grown food, grow school gardens, and conduct hands-on nutrition education. The 2011-2012 team is focused on Montana’s rural communities, especially those with high levels of poverty or food insecurity.

In the summer of 2006, Grow Montana partnered with Montana Campus Compact to launch Montana’s FoodCorps, the nation’s first statewide team of VISTA volunteers trained to create and grow farm to cafeteria programs. Each FoodCorps member was trained, provided with mentors, and dispatched to a partnering institution. Since then, the six original Montana FoodCorps institutions have returned over $2.5 million dollars to local farmers and ranchers. This year the growing Montana FoodCorps team will work in a dozen communities state-wide to help schools serve local, healthy foods; build and tend school gardens; and educate kids about how and why to eat food grown closer to home.


In FoodCorps’ first year alone, Salish Kootenai College purchased 10 percent (up from 0) of its total food budget from seven tribal reservation-area vendors, Montana State University launched a diversified student-run vegetable farm, UM-Western bought so much local beef that a county commissioner is proposing to build a processing plant in the region, and Missoula County Public Schools actually saved money stocking local produce. Now, Montana’s FoodCorps is a model for a national FoodCorps, which launched this summer with 50 members in 10 states.

Montana’s FoodCorps depends on the hard work of many, starting with the host communities who In Ennis, Dillon, Red Lodge, Boulder, Livingston, Ronan, Glendive, Forsyth, Kalispell, Somers, Sheridan, and Potomac, we collaborate with community foundations, extension agencies, local colleges, school districts, non-profits, after-school programs, and more. In addition, FoodCorps members enjoy broad statewide support from the Grow Montana coalition, which aims to create a sustainable Montana-based food system.

While the emphasis of Montana’s FoodCorps is on K-12 students, our impact reaches far beyond. For example, on a recent sunny fall day in Dillon, middle school students jogged one mile to the UM Western Campus Garden, enjoyed a quick hands-on lesson on the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables from a UM Western student, then harvested a bounty of produce to share with the senior center down the road. This one simple project gets healthy food into the lives of sixth graders, college students, and retirees all at once.

But do the kids like it? According to teachers in Kalispell, even the pickiest eaters are gobbling up the local produce now being offered in the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Snack program. And in Red Lodge, students so enjoyed the fresh veggies offered on a special meal day that they went to the farm to help harvest more. The fruits of our labor are disappearing into kids’ bellies, and that’s just the way we like it.

The key factor in our ability to create such innovative programs is our community-building process: All FoodCorps members share the same mission—to improve the health of children through Farm to School, school gardens, and nutrition eduction—but the strategies for achieving the mission is tailored to the unique strengths and opportunities of the local community.

Results:  Previous FoodCorps members have returned over $1 million to Montana’s farmers
and ranchers through local food buying programs, and reached thousands of
community members through educational programming.

Findings:  Evaluation data on FoodCorps for Rural Montana is still pending. Initial
summary of progress to date will be developed in fall/winter of 2012.

Farm to School programs across the state would benefit from:

                -Increased number of farmers and ranchers with the capacity to sell locally

                -Increased opportunities for community-based food processing

                -More opportunities to work with teachers on how to incorporate school gardens and farm-based education into their already full schedules

                -More research on which types of school gardens, farm-based education, cooking and nutrition classes have greatest impact, so that we can tailor our programs accordingly

Current Funding Sources: USDA Community Food Projects (NIFA) & Corporation for National and Community Service

Partner Organizations: Grow Montana, National Center for AppropriateTechnology, Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), Montana Campus Compact VISTA, Montana Team Nutrition’s Farm to School Program, National FoodCorps, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, Community GATE, Montana
Farmers Union

For more information please visit :

 Or Contact:

Crissie McMullan, FoodCorps Project Director, National Center for Appropriate Technology and Grow Montana



Kevin Moore,  Grow Montana Project Director, Alternative Energy Resources Organization