The name həliʔil means “to become well/heal” and was gifted to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s program from the Snoqualmie Tribe. The name derives from the Coast Salish territories and comes from the Lushootseed language. It is considered a great honor to be gifted the name həliʔil.
Anyone of any age or background can develop lung cancer. But among tribal nations and Indigenous peoples in the United States, there is a much higher risk of developing the disease.
At Fred Hutch, we respect these resilient members of our community and are making it an even greater priority to care about them and actively support them. We established the həliʔil Program to identify barriers to lung cancer screening in Indigenous communities and to partner with tribal and community leaders.
The issue of lung cancer among Indigenous people in the U.S. and our region is complex, and several factors contribute to the problem:
As a result of this work, Fred Hutch established the həliʔil Program, which launched in fall 2019. The program focuses on:
*Through a gift generously granted to the həliʔil Program, all Fred Hutch cancer patients, caregivers and family members — regardless of their race or ethnicity — can receive free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), lozenges and gum.
Through həliʔil, Fred Hutch and its partners are currently collaborating and engaging with tribal and community leaders, listening and learning as well as earning trust and building relationships.
Some initiatives currently underway include focus groups and semi-structured interviews to better understand attitudes, beliefs and barriers to smoking cessation and screening, as well as how to overcome these barriers.
As the program continues to roll out, Fred Hutch will expand its reach and involvement in a number of ways, such as:
The Fred Hutch 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was developed to help understand how cancer impacts the Puget Sound region. In order to address the results of the CHNA, Fred Hutch put together a Community Benefit Implementation Plan that identified four major priority areas, including Indigenous health.