‘Gratitude is Medicine’ PTHA celebrates its workforce

When the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority staff gets together, love lights up the room. There is just something so special about this group of gifted healers who come from all walks of life to bring their own unique gifts to help make PTHA one of the most respected health care providers in Indian Country.

Friday, June 1 was a day to appreciate and celebrate the PTHA employees and award those who have served the community. Gathering in the Emerald Queen Casino Ballroom and Conference Center, the PTHA staff was treated to a delicious lunch and an awards presentation for those who have worked for five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years and – for the first time in PTHA history – awards were given to two employees who have served 40 years.

Dr. Alan Shelton emceed the event and, as he always does, kept the audience laughing.

“Thank you all for coming out on this very auspicious day – June 1, 2018, the 51st anniversary of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ranked by Rolling Stone as the greatest album ever.”

But in all seriousness, Dr. Shelton expressed what everyone in the room was feeling that day.

“The greatest asset the Health Authority has is its staff and the relationships we build and grow in with each other,” he said. “Each of you bring your gift and that’s actually the secret to happiness: being able to share your gift.”

PTHA Executive Director Chris Henry spoke her opening remarks in Lushootseed to acknowledge our ancestors and those that came before us.

“I can still remember the days when we didn’t have what we have. I remember the dental trailer being in the cemetery but that’s all we had and even that we were appreciative of because we didn’t have to take a bus into town to someone that really didn’t want to serve us,” she said. “I raise my hands to all of you and give thanks for the services you provide to our people. I respect all of you. I honor all of you.”

Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud also remembers the trailer, and has himself witnessed how far PTHA has come over the years.

“I just want to say thank you,” he told the gathering. “I’m honored to stand here and say this. Being healthy keeps us alive and that’s what you all do. I don’t know if there is a more important job. I don’t care where or what you’re doing in this clinic, this is what keeps us alive. Is there anything more important? There isn’t.”

He then proposed a toast and everyone raised a glass: “Thank you so much for being a part of our community – for keeping our people healthy from the beginning to the end. Nothing is more important than that. Cheers!”

Also present for the occasion were Tribal Councilmembers David Bean and Annette Bryan.

“We have one of the most efficiently run facilities with the lowest turnover rates,” David Bean said. “You guys have done that. Thank you for being that example of efficiency for all our tribal entities.”

Councilwoman Annette Bryan noted both the physical and spiritual medicine that PTHA provides to everyone who walks through the doors.

“The fact that so many (employees) have stayed here all these years is a testament to your passion. I’m honored and grateful to witness this today,” she said.

Chris Henry read a message from Tribal Councilmember Tim Reynon, who couldn’t be there that day: “Please pass along my appreciation and gratitude to all those that are being recognized today, as well as to all the staff for all they do for our members and our community. You all do a great job of taking care of us, and we are so grateful for each and every one of you.”

Special thanks to the PTHA Employee Committee for putting so much thought and care into creating this memorable day: Marli Henry, Ruth Gallo-Paul, Marlee Miller and Jacqueline George.