Health Heroes Include Whidbey General Nurse
Janie Keilwitz, RN, holds the Health Hero Award presented May 19 by Anne Tarrant, a member of the Island County Board of Health and president of the hospital board.
In 2003 Keilwitz created the Heartwise cholesterol screening program offered by the Life Center for Essential Wellness at Whidbey General.
The program, which Keilwitz still leads, eventually became the centerpiece for a joint Soroptimist International-Whidbey General venture called Heart of a Woman, which offers free Heartwise screenings for women with financial challenges. Today, Heart of a Woman is funded by the annual Soroptimist Red Dress Ball.
Since Heart of a Woman was established, about 30% of those served by the program have had elevated risk factors and more than 20% had no doctor. Many had not seen any healthcare provider in years. “This program saves lives,” says Keilwitz.
Beyond Heart of a Woman, Keilwitz also regularly teaches abdominal deep breathing and relaxation techniques to community members, hospital staff and patients. She helped bring the Heart Math program to Whidbey General, which promotes stress management and life balance.
On her own, Keilwitz began visiting elementary school classrooms, singing the praises of good nutrition and physical fitness. Her youth outreach grew to organizing and leading Whidbey General's Health Fairs at Coupeville Elementary, with Jump Jump Revolution being the latest success, involving nearly 100 children plus their parents.
The Linda Lee Martens Memorial Community Health Hero Awards recognize adults, youth or agencies that have directly or indirectly impacted community health, including but not limited to healthcare, environmental health, safety or quality of life.
Selection criteria include the urgency of the problem addressed, number of people affected and results generated. The award was named for a late executive secretary of the Island County Health Department.
"Linda Lee Martens was a dear friend of mine, which makes this award even more special," says Keilwitz.