It’s about time that the Southwest Florida community revisit the carpetbagging “Blue Zones Project” that was imposed upon all of us by Dr. Allen Weiss’ NCH Healthcare System.
Question #1: Has anyone in Collier County ever asked Allen Weiss what’s in it for NCH? For instance, does it help NCH qualify to get Medicare subsidies under Obamacare as part of a new revenue-generating business model ? If so, Weiss and NCH were not forthcoming with this self-interest while they peddled their pet Blue Zones project around town for the better part of the 2014-15 year. Why else would NCH’s President dedicate so much of his efforts for a year, if not for some benefit to NCH’s bottom line? But that was not their narrative provided by NCH to We the People.
Question #2: If Blue Zones is so great, why did the publicly traded Healthways company have to pay $25MM or more to get rid of that division in Summer 2016?
Note this quote from the article:
“In addition, Nashville, Tennessee-based Healthways is paying ShareCare $25 million upfront to cover expected losses from the population health business. It also agreed, if need be, to forfeit up to $20 million of its ShareCare equity stake to offset negative cash flow not covered in the upfront payment.”
Question #3: If Blue Zones is such an organic movement, why do they only really “expand” by latching onto a government board who then imposes it on its workers, students, or the community at large? Consider Blue Zones’ strategy to date. First they latched onto the Naples Chamber and its “Opportunity Naples” affiliate (which include Weiss and pals such as Dudley Goodlette who then helped push the initial effort). Next they latched onto our government boards including the Naples City Council, the Collier County School Board (thanks to Superintendent’ Patton’s closed door efforts with her elite pals where she was instructed to conceal the Blue Zones public record until after it was signed and approved), the Board of County Commissioners, and now the Bonita Springs City Council and the Estero Town Council.
The Blue Zoners also latched onto various sympathetic HOA boards around town who then impose it on their residents.**
** Kudos to the Oakes Estates Advisory Board who, in 2015, told the Blue Zones minions to get lost and never come back when they tried to infiltrate the freedom-minded residents who live off of Oakes Boulevard who are not governed by an “official” HOA. This is the difference between an ad hoc board such as Oakes Estates, and your typical HOA which has the strong-arm ability to impose new rules and regulations on its members.
Get the Blue Zones strategy here? “Organic” growth by force.
Where is the proof that the people of Collier County organically endorse Blue Zones? Three years in, B&B does not see that evidence.***
***Note: The first “Blue Zones Certified” restaurant in Collier County — the “Cider Press Cafe” — has long since shuttered its doors. Apparently the marketplace of Collier County residents rejected its Blue Zones fare.
Question #4: What exactly has Blue Zones done for our community that was not already happening before they imposed themselves on us back in 2014-15?
Is it marching around the neighborhood with friends and neighbors? People have been doing that here for years. And the rest of society has advanced far past “walking moias” in their exercise choices, into things like Cross-fit, paddle boarding, etc.
Is it riding bikes? People have been doing that for years. We could give statistics on the dramatic rise in interest (and purchases) in road biking since Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France success starting around 1999.
Is it eating well? People will either eat well, or they won’t. Organic food consumptions was already on the rise through the 2000’s long before Blue Zones. Go ask Alfie Oakes about the efforts of his father, Frank Oakes – who founded the popular “Food and Thought” store over a decade ago on U.S. 41 in Naples.
Is it pushing infrastructure such as new pathways that “we the taxpayer” have to pay for, with credit to “Blue Zones?” The Naples Pathway Coalition has been working hard since the 1990s – long before Blue Zones – and they are much more responsible for the new pathways, bike lanes, etc., than Blue Zones ever has been. Modern day planning principals endorsed by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) have long-since pushed pathways and neighborhood connectivity. These concepts were not initiated by Blue Zones.
Question #5 – If BLue Zones is so helpful, why did they start in the healthiest part of Collier County — and avoided the impoverished town of Immokalee? If this isn’t about NCH and money, then why wouldn’t NCH start in Immokalee where good health is more in demand? Instead, they have left that for last. Even by Blue Zones’ own standards conducted by their own self-serving “Gallup-Sharecare Wellbeing Survey,” Naples was already #2 in the country in terms of health before Blue Zones arrived in town. So why start in Naples, where the marginal increase in healthy living would be very small? If they were sincere they would have started in Immokalee, where the marginal increase could have been much greater.
The same pattern occurs nationally with Blue Zones. They don’t target impoverished areas such as Mississippi or inner-city Detroit. Instead, they seem to target markets with an already existing and functioning health care/hospital system. Thus, see Question #1 above.
So what, exactly, do we the people of Southwest Florida all get out of Blue Zones? And why should they get the credit for all of these successes that started long before their carpetbagging arrival in our community?