COVID-19: Vaccine update

ICHS patients, call 206-788-3700 to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment today. If you are not an ICHS patient, please don’t contact our call center. Your appointment must be made online.

Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has resumed nationwide. Click here to learn more.

Thank you for your interest in the COVID-19 vaccine.

ICHS is working with public health and community partners to ensure we get as many doses as possible to as many people as possible. An organized and equitable distribution of a vaccine is the key to getting the pandemic under control.

Vaccine appointments are currently for eligible for anyone who lives or works in Washington State. ICHS is offering COVID-19 appointments to people 16+.

We each have a responsibility to ensure that those around us are protected and we help reduce COVID-19 transmission by being vaccinated. This is the only way we can halt the pandemic and ensure the health of our family members, friends and neighbors.

You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you’ve been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.

FAQs: About Vaccines

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved by the FDA work similarly. They cause the body to develop antibodies (fighter cells). A genetic code of a small part of the virus (the spike protein) is injected into the body; this is taken up by cells, which reproduce the protein. These are then recognized by the body as foreign proteins. The fighter cells work to get rid of the proteins, while creating a memory bank of these proteins to defend against future infection.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works differently than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A piece of genetic material from the virus’ spike protein is added into another virus. The modified virus enters a cell to put its DNA into the nucleus and give instructions to other cells. Your body reacts by producing antibodies. Your immune system cells then remember how to fight the virus.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance, and will be free if you are uninsured.

The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA, Pfizer and Moderna, both require two shots. The first shot starts building protection. The second one acts as a “booster” to give the most protection. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires just one shot.

Not getting a vaccination is more than an individual choice, it has a much wider impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing. It will make it harder to achieve herd immunity, a level of immunity that will prevent the virus from circulating in the community, and protect us all. Without immunization, you place yourself at greater risk of severe illness or long-term health issues from COVID-19. When you get the vaccine, you also help protect people in high-risk groups that might not be able to get vaccinated themselves.

Children below age 16 have not been included in the trials and are not considered a priority at this juncture.

Yes. You will not be asked for any proof of citizenship or residency.

Please bring a photo ID with your date of birth. You will not be turned away if you don’t have an ID. If you have health insurance, bring a copy of your insurance card. Please wear a short-sleeved shirt or clothing with sleeves that can be rolled up.

ICHS is following the CDC and FDA recommendation to resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. ICHS also continues to work with public health and community partners to administer Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to protect patients and community members.

FAQs: Vaccine Safety

Vaccine safety is a priority. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through a rigorous and multi-step testing and approval process before they can be used. They will only be approved if they pass safety and effectiveness standards. Many people took part in this testing to see how the vaccines offer protection to people of different ages, races and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.

After a temporary pause, the CDC and FDA recommend vaccination with the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine resume among people 18 years and older. However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets. There are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.

Your arm may be sore, red or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle and joint pain. This is a natural response and a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is expected to do. It is working to build protection to disease. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.

COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. However, it does take time, and more people need to be vaccinated before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. That is why safety monitoring will continue by an independent group of experts with the CDC. They will provide regular safety updates for our immediate action.

As of April 23, 2021, more than 8 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it’s proven to be a very safe and effective vaccine in preventing severe and fatal cases of COVID-19. You should expect to have side effects such as soreness in the arm, fever and a headache. 

As of April 23, 2021, experts reviewing safety reports for this vaccine found 15 reports of women who got the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and later developed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets.

These reports represent a reporting rate of 7 such events per 1 million vaccinations among women 18 through 49 years old and a rate of 0.9 per 1 million vaccinations among women 50 years and older. For all women, this is a rare adverse event. For men of all ages, the adverse event is even more rare. Reports show that symptoms of this adverse event started between 6 and 15 days after vaccination.

For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:

  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of these symptoms and report adverse events to VAERS.

If you were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, contact your vaccine provider to learn about additional vaccine eligibility.

No, the vaccine will not cause the COVID-19 illness. The vaccine is made up of only a part of the virus (the spike protein), just enough for the body to recognize as a foreign material to produce antibodies. For this reason, the vaccination cannot create a false positive COVID-19 test.

No, while the vaccine is made of a genetic material, it does not interact with the genome. It encodes for specific proteins (in this case the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus), which then gets decoded by the ribosome (protein making organelle/part of a cell) located outside of the nucleus where our genome is housed. mRNA in the cell is also degraded relatively quickly limiting long-lasting impact.

Yes, you can receive COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the clinical trials, experts support vaccination to prevent infection. Read here and here to learn more.

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction — even if it was not severe — to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe. If you have a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, which both require two doses, the CDC advises against getting the second dose. The CDC also recommends that people who are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

People with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies — should get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

It is safe to be vaccinated if you have mild, cold-like symptoms but we ask you to reschedule if you have a fever.

Some people feel sick after vaccination. These symptoms are the same symptoms we get when we have the infection and are a sign of the body working hard to fight the infection and develop antibodies.

FAQs: Vaccine Effectiveness

No, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, while using the same approach, are different from each other. So the second dose should be the same vaccine.

We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

You will still need to practice precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures until many more people are vaccinated. This is because there’s still a chance you could pass the virus to someone else even though you don’t get sick yourself.

Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally and scientists are working to learn more about them. The current vaccines were designed around earlier versions of coronavirus, but scientists believe they should still work against new variants, although perhaps not quite as well.

We can expect variants to continue to emerge in the future as the virus evolves. Efforts are now underway to redesign the current vaccines to be a better match. In the future, we may need a new COVID-19 shot each year like we do with flu immunizations, to account for any changes in circulating viruses.

If you’ve had COVID-19, you have natural immunity that may last months to years but is not indefinite. People who have had COVID-19 are advised to get the vaccine because they could still be reinfected and could still possibly infect someone else.

Both the vaccines from Pfizer and from Moderna have two doses. After only one shot your protection might be around 50%. The second shot provides a boost that gives strong, long-lasting immunity. After both shots, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have 94% and 95% efficacy, respectively.

It will take about a week after the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for you to have the vaccine’s full protection. You will have full protection from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine one week after your shot.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently approved by the FDA require two shots to be fully effective. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot. The CDC says your second shot can be scheduled up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first and remain effective. If a delay occurs, there is no need to repeat the first shot again.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both work well, offering strong protection after two shots and over 90% protective across age groups and racial and ethnic groups. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson has been shown to offer strong protection but was paused nationwide by the CDC and FDA as of April 13 to examine data of reported six cases of adverse events. These six cases represent a fraction of a percent of the 6.8 million people in the United States who have received the Janssen vaccine.

The evidence is clear — you should get the first vaccine available to you instead of waiting for a particular one. This is the best way to protect yourself, as well as everyone else. Immunizing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, will help us to reduce overall COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

A study suggesting the Pfizer vaccine was less effective among Asian Americans did not have not enough people participating from within those groups to give data for a firm conclusion. There is no reason to believe that any one vaccine is less effective among Asians and NHPI, AIAN or multiracial groups.

You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. Continue taking precautions in public places by wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you’ve been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.

As cases surge, ICHS brings first free high-volume COVID-19 test site to the Eastside

ICHS COVID-19 TESTING

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is bringing convenient, free COVID-19 testing to the Eastside. On Dec. 15, ICHS opens the first high-capacity COVID-19 test site on the Eastside at Bellevue College, expanding efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in east King County and along the I-90 corridor as local cases continue to spike. The test site is operated by ICHS and hosted by Bellevue College, with support from King County and the City of Bellevue.

People are strongly encouraged, but not required, to register for a testing appointment here. Testing is free and open to anyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Operating hours are Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

“We are so pleased to work with King County and the City of Bellevue to open this large-scale testing site serving the Eastside and its diverse community members,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “Expanded testing is to the benefit of all Eastside residents during this critical stage of the pandemic. ICHS multilingual staff and providers will play an important role making sure no one is left behind because of language or culture – and all of our friends, neighbors and family members are connected to much-needed health care and testing.”

“I thank International Community Health Services and Bellevue College for their assistance in setting up this new testing site on the Eastside,” said Dow Constantine, King County executive. “This holiday season, the greatest gift we can give our friends and loved ones – and ourselves – is good health and peace of mind. We must remain vigilant to bring this virus under control, and bring our community and economy back stronger than ever.”

The Eastside is home to a number of different language communities – 13.3% of households in Bellevue are limited English speaking compared to six percent of households overall in King County from 2014 to 2018. ICHS regularly provides free on-site and remote interpretation in over 50 languages and dialects at its clinics and its multilingual staff are experienced in meeting the needs of a diverse patient community. The Bellevue College testing site adds to drive-thru testing ICHS currently provides at its International District Medical-Dental Clinic in Seattle.

“It is through these strong partnerships from community providers like ICHS that makes these sites possible,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “ICHS has a long history of providing culturally relevant care and this expertise will be extremely valuable for the diverse language communities we hope will access this site.”

“The new, free testing site at Bellevue College will be a valuable resource for our diverse community, especially as we work together to minimize and ultimately overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lynne Robinson, City of Bellevue mayor. “I want to thank Public Health – Seattle & King County, Bellevue College and operator ICHS for their partnership and for making this testing site a reality. It is also critical that Bellevue residents continue to follow Public Health’s guidance; wear a mask, stay home when you can, avoid indoor gatherings, and quarantine and get tested if you feel sick.”

Getting there

The new test site is located at Bellevue College, 2645 145th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98007. The entrance is on 148th Ave SE. Drive-thru and limited walk-up testing is available. The test site is available via the 221, 226, 228, 245, and 271 bus lines.

Support for isolation and quarantine

If you have COVID-like symptoms or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, Public Health – Seattle & King County urges you to avoid contact with others and get tested immediately. Stay home and away from others while you are waiting for test results.

Anyone who tests positive should isolate immediately. For those without a safe place to do so, King County isolation and quarantine sites are available to help people through a difficult situation and reduce risk of transmission. This is especially important for those living with a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, or people experiencing homelessness. Call the King County COVID-19 Call Center (206) 477-3977 to see if isolation and quarantine services are right for you.

Protect yourself with a flu shot

Getting your flu shot is more important now than ever. Call 206.788.3700

The Washington State Department of Health strongly recommends everyone get vaccinated to avoid serious illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is likely that both COVID-19 and the flu will be circulating at the same time. By getting the flu shot, you help keep our communities healthy because you are lowering the chance of exposure for the people around you, especially those who are unable to get the flu shot themselves.

Stop by one of our pharmacies

If you are between the ages of 19 and 64, come to the pharmacy during regular business hours at our International District, Holly Park and Shoreline clinics. Walk-ins accepted. Appointments are encouraged. Make an appointment by calling the pharmacy:

Holly Park: 206-788-3563
International District: 206-788-3708
Shoreline: 206-533-2723

SEE a primary care provider

Ask about getting a flu shot during your next visit or schedule a separate time to come in. New patients are always welcome.

We’re here to help make it safe and easy

No cost for kids and with most insurance

All children in Washington may receive flu vaccines, and other recommended vaccines, at no cost through age 18. Flu vaccine is a covered benefit provided at no cost every year through most insurance plans for adults over the age of 18, and is covered by Medicare part B.

Help if you’ve lost a job, or health insurance

We welcome all people, regardless of insurance status or income. If you do not have health insurance, we will help you determine if you qualify for a free or low cost plan, as well as your eligibility for our sliding fee discount and other free health programs and services. You will not be denied care if you are unable to pay.

Stay safe in our care

  • All patients and visitors are screened for symptoms and have their temperatures checked prior to entering our clinics.
  • Waiting time is cut down to minimize social contact. You will be moved quickly from check-in to exam room.
  • The number of guests is limited and our waiting rooms have been configured to ensure safe physical distancing.
  • All visitors are asked to wear a mask when they arrive. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided. Staff are masked at all times
  • Hand sanitizer is readily available throughout each clinic. Exam rooms are fully sanitized between visits. Common areas and high-touch spots are disinfected multiple times daily.

Feds award ICHS for care quality

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is among health centers nationwide to be recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with quality improvement awards totaling more than $117 million.

The awards recognize the highest performing health centers as well as those that have made significant quality improvements from the previous year.

ICHS received a grant award of nearly $160,000 and was recognized as a Health Center Quality Leader for achieving the best overall clinical performance among all health centers. HRSA has named ICHS a Health Center Quality Leader every year since 2014.

ICHS was also awarded as a Clinical Quality Improver for demonstrating at least 15% improvement for each quality measure from the previous year. ICHS’s use of technology to help patients access high quality care and its team-based approach were also recognized with awards in the Advancing Health Information Technology and Patient Centered Medical Home Recognition categories.

Federally qualified health centers provide primary care services for underserved communities through funds from the HRSA Health Center Program. They deliver care to about one in 11 people nationwide who are low-income, uninsured or face obstacles to getting health care, HRSA Administrator Tom Engles said in a statement. “These awards will support health centers as they continue to be a primary medical home for communities around the country,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers have been on the frontlines, providing more than 3 million tests, according to HHS. “These quality improvement awards support health centers across the country in delivering care to nearly 30 million people, providing a convenient source of quality care that has grown even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These awards help ensure that all patients who visit a HRSA-funded health center continue to receive the highest quality of care, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.”

A full list of award recipients can be found here.

 

ICHS lights up National Health Center Week

Lots to celebrate at an Aug. 10 staff appreciation event at the ICHS International District clinic.

 

International Community Health Services (ICHS) helped highlight the value of the nation’s health centers during National Health Center Week, an annual national celebration to raise public awareness and legislative support, held from Aug. 9 to 15.

Staff, patients and state lawmakers joined ICHS to observe this year’s theme, “Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future,” which honored frontline providers, staff and patients who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a series of virtual meetings with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA9), Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA8) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA1), ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola shared the innovative steps ICHS has taken to address the needs of the community in the face of extraordinary challenges. She underscored the urgent call for Congress to act to secure reauthorization of mandatory funding for community health centers by October.

“Our sustainability is being threatened as we bring great value,” said Batayola. “Community health centers are critical in ensuring access to health care and information, outreach and engagement. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but especially for people who have low incomes or have lost their jobs or health insurance.”

After King County emerged as an early epicenter of the health crisis in March, ICHS quickly responded with new models of care, including telehealth and in-home visits, prescription deliveries, drive-thru testing sites and testing targeted to specific populations. ICHS has also served as a strong voice in advocating against anti-Asian stigma and bias.

ICHS has struggled with PPE shortages and decreased demand for primary care and preventative services, as patients shelter at home and avoid in-person health visits out of fear. This has led to reduced revenue. An infusion of federal funding – both emergency and long-term – is critical if ICHS and the nation’s community health centers are to continue to meet need and demand.

“It’s a really important thing to have health care access for everyone,” said Beth Weitensteiner, assistant medical director at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic. Weitensteiner joined other ICHS staff members, patients and board members to express gratitude for ICHS and its promise of affordable health care in a series of YouTube videos celebrating National Health Center Week. “Clinics like ours are the clinics that are on the front line, making sure that everyone has affordable, good access to health care.”

An Aug. 10 panel discussion with Rep. Kim Schrier centered on keeping kids healthy during COVID-19 and the work of ICHS’s school-based health centers.
The ICHS leadership team showed its appreciation during an Aug. 12 virtual visit and discussion with Rep. Suzan DelBene.
On Aug. 12, Rep. Adam Smith joined ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola and other local health center leaders for a roundtable discussion of pandemic-related concerns.

 

National Health Center Week festivities also included staff appreciation lunches and patient appreciation events at ICHS’s full-service clinics in the International District, Holly Park, Bellevue and Shoreline. Check out highlights here on Flickr.

Free Rx delivery


ICHS has added a free pharmacy home delivery service for your safety and convenience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, there is no need to wait in a pharmacy line or make an extra trip. Your prescriptions* and over-the-counter medications will be delivered, hassle-free within two business days.

New prescriptions

Getting a new prescription? Simply tell your ICHS provider you would like to sign up for home delivery.

Refills and transfers

Just call us to arrange home delivery for your next refill or after transferring your prescription from another pharmacy to ICHS.

For more information

Call your ICHS pharmacy location for help and questions about our Rx home delivery service:

International District Clinic: 206.788.3770
Holly Park Clinic: 206.788.3563
Shoreline Clinic: 206.533.2720

*Prescriptions must meet 340B eligibility. Excluding all controlled prescriptions. For ICHS patients within King County.

ICHS telehealth visits

Now you can see your doctor, dentist or mental health counselor through telehealth.

A telehealth visit is just like an in-person visit, but allows you to continue to receive primary and behavioral health care, or a dental consultation, while limiting person-to-person contact. It helps us all do our part to limit community transmission of COVID-19. You can schedule either a telephone visit or a virtual visit.

  • A telephone visit lets you share a conversation with your provider over a phone line.
  • A virtual visit takes place face-to-face through live video with your primary care clinician, dentist or behavioral health provider. A virtual visit requires an internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone equipped with a camera, microphone and speaker.

Sometimes, it may be necessary for you to be seen in the clinic. If your care team determines this is the best way to address your care, they will let you know. If you need language assistance, please let us know when you schedule your appointment.

Make a Telehealth Appointment

For more information, please call: 206.788.3700

Call 911 for medical emergencies
Telehealth is not for emergencies or potentially life-threatening medical conditions such as chest pain, severe shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain or headache. If you experience these symptoms call 911.

ICHS expands free legal services for patients

International Community Health Services (ICHS) and Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) today announced the expansion of a program that gives access to free legal services for ICHS patients. Low income patients referred from ICHS’s Shoreline Clinic can now meet with ELAP’s attorneys for free legal advice. The announcement follows the launch of similar services at the ICHS Bellevue Clinic in October 2018.

“We’ve seen a positive impact for patients at our Bellevue Clinic and we are thrilled to work with ELAP to bring the same to Shoreline,” said Kimo Hirayama, assistant medical director at the ICHS Shoreline Clinic. ”Many of our patients are immigrants or refugees who face unique challenges or vulnerable circumstances. In providing access to qualified legal experts, we hope to address issues that put families’ health at risk and threaten our communities.”

ELAP experts can help patients on a wide range of civil matters, including those related to public benefits, housing, education and employment, legal status and family law issues.

“The Medical-Legal Partnership was founded on the idea that the most effective health care services target health problems at the source,” said Dorothy Leggett, ELAP MLP staff attorney. “We know that legal issues are stressors that can negatively impact a patient’s health and the community’s wellbeing. By working alongside health care teams to help patients assert their legal rights, we hope to increase access to free civil legal aid and improve overall health outcomes.”

Services are available to qualifying King County residents who fall below 200% of the federal poverty level, which was $50,200 for a family of four in 2019. The health care teams at ICHS work closely with ELAP’s legal aid attorneys to identify patients who qualify. Referred patients will meet with an attorney for sessions that can be scheduled at either the ICHS Bellevue or Shoreline Clinic.

For more information about free legal help available to ICHS patients, please call 206-788-3700.

$70K grant helps ICHS inspire a new generation of health care leaders

Program prepares youth of color for future careers while meeting workforce demand for culturally competent health care

A $70,000 grant from the Sheng-Yen Lu Foundation is helping International Community Health Services (ICHS) prepare youth from diverse backgrounds for a future in health care. This fall, ICHS launched the Building Leadership: Building Healthy Communities program at Seattle World School. The two-year partnership between Seattle World School and ICHS will give students hands-on experience and training in medicine, as it helps ICHS address a growing demand for culturally competent care.

“ICHS is committed to training the next generation of health care providers,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “What better way to do this than by partnering with our school-based health center. By supporting youth of color, we expand who has access to education and jobs in this sustainable and desirable field, as well as create new leaders who can provide transformative health care in their communities.”

The program combines classroom instruction with hands-on learning, job shadowing and mentorship. The Vietnamese Friendship Association will provide career counseling so students can apply for health care jobs and secondary education programs. Ninety-eight percent of Seattle World School students are immigrants or refugees, and 97% qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“While students at Seattle World School are extremely motivated to pursue their dreams, they may lack awareness of their options,” said Kate Ceronsky, nurse practitioner at ICHS and one of the program’s founders. “We are giving them tools for exploration, as well as a stepping stone for the future.”

Additional training programs at ICHS
Students 18 and over who complete the program can apply for additional ICHS professional training programs and opportunities that lead directly into a career in health care. For example, ICHS, in conjunction with Washington Association Community Health, offers a one-year registered Medical Assistant Apprenticeship, a full-time, paid position that combines formal instruction with on-the-job training. After completion, graduates take the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam to obtain state credentials. Apprentices are contracted with ICHS for an additional year after obtaining certification. ICHS plans to become a training site for a similar apprenticeship for dental assistants in 2020. Both programs help ICHS build a pipeline of qualified health professionals that reflect the communities in which it serves.

Closing a cultural gap in health care
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care will add 2.4 million new jobs and grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, more than any other occupational group. The agency says this projected growth is due to an aging population that is placing greater demand on services. As a result, many areas of the U.S. are experiencing a shortage in primary care physicians, registered nurses and other certified health workers.

This labor shortage is occurring as minorities continue to face health care disparities. Research suggests that medical providers who give patients culturally competent care — which respects a person’s heritage and values — often see improved patient outcomes.

“In increasing the numbers and diversity of qualified health professionals, ICHS is helping close persistent cultural gaps to create more vibrant communities that benefit us all,” said Batayola.