Highlighting health disparities, ICHS’ fundraising team joins Race for the Cure

Let’s improve breast cancer survival rates for Asian and Black women

Most of us can think of someone who has been affected by breast cancer. That’s no surprise when you look at the statistics. One in eight women will be diagnosed within her lifetime.

As a fundraising team from International Community Health Services (ICHS) joins the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on June 4, an event ICHS has supported annually for more than a decade, we offer some important reminders. Because breast cancer is not an equal opportunity killer.

Whether a person gets cancer is usually determined by genes and lifestyle. Whether a person dies from it is usually tied to social and economic factors – including whether that person has medical insurance, a distrust of doctors, transportation and language barriers, or a lack of health knowledge and information. When cancer is found at a late stage, as it more frequently is in marginalized communities, survival through treatment becomes less likely.

According to Susan G. Komen’s 2015 community profile report, Pacific Islander women have our area’s lowest five-year breast cancer survival rate. Eighteen percent of those diagnosed with invasive breast cancer do not live past five years of being diagnosed. Black women also have a poor survival rate. More than 11% do not live past five years of diagnosis.

Giving minority women greater access to mammograms and treatment significantly increases their chances of survival. For more than a decade, ICHS and its community advocates, educators and partners have worked in concert to help women – through mobile screening services, interpretation and education – gain access to life-changing early screening and detection.

Join ICHS, as we work to improve breast health and breast cancer outcomes for all women. Prompt the women and men in your life to get regular screenings, starting today.

“Early intervention is the best protection,” said Veronica Kim, ICHS’ Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program coordinator. Read about Kim’s breast cancer survivor story, and how it has given her new insights in her work with patients, in this article in the International Examiner.

ICHS champions state-wide hepatitis B education with support from Ann Wu Liao Foundation and Gov. Jay Inslee

The Ann Wu Liao Foundation presents the third installment of a $115,000 grant to support community outreach about hepatitis B.


International Community Health Services (ICHS) is behind efforts to bring to reality a Washington state free of hepatitis B, a virus affecting a disproportionate number of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and other refugee and immigrant communities.

The third installment of a $115,000 grant from the Ann Wu Liao Foundation supports community outreach and momentum during the month of May, Viral Hepatitis Month, and the work of the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington, which is led by ICHS.

The Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington has received proclamations from the Washington State Governor’s office signifying support of hepatitis B awareness and outreach. The Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington envisions a state free of new hepatitis B infections, where all people know their hepatitis B status, all care is culturally competent and all outcomes are equitable.

“The Liao Foundation’s generous support and Gov. Inslee’s proclamation bolster our efforts to raise hepatitis B awareness among communities affected by chronic hepatitis B,” said Mohammed Abul-Kadir, coordinator of the Hepatitis Coalition of Washington for ICHS.

The coalition’s actions this month include sharing Gov. Inslee’s proclamation as it brings together a network of partners – including community, health care, government and faith-based organizations – for its annual hepatitis B forum.

This year’s forum brings key challenges front-and-center with a free screening of Be About It, a documentary telling the story of two men and two families living with hepatitis B, on May 23 at New Holly Gathering Hall at 5:30PM.

“The biggest challenge is breaking the silence and stigma,” said Abul-Kadir. “By enabling ICHS and the coalition to amplify its message and outreach, the Liao Foundation and governor’s office are creating a strong impetus for change.”

Learn more about the upcoming Hepatitis B forum on May 23rd

ICHS Bloom Gala raises $218,000 to support health care for all

On May 6, hundreds of supporters showed up to ‘Raise the Paddle’ and give health care to those who need it most. The International Community Health Services (ICHS) Foundation raised more than $218,000 at its annual Bloom Gala at the downtown Seattle Sheraton to support uncompensated patient care delivered within ICHS clinics.

Last year, ICHS provided $1.3 million in care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services.

“As ICHS marks its 44th year and looks toward its 45th anniversary, we have been fortunate to have the support of people passionate about ensuring health care to the community and equally committed to our longevity and success, “said ICHS Foundation director Ron Chew. “I thank all ICHS supporters and friends for giving us so many reasons to celebrate tonight.”

ICHS annually honors one individual and one organization for their service and contributions to the health and well-being of Asian Pacific Islander and immigrant communities. This year, Allen Muramoto, MD and Country Doctor Community Health Centers were recognized with the 2017 Bamboo Awards for Health.

The Bloom Gala took place just four days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and passed the American Health Care Act, a bill that threatens millions of Americans’ access to affordable health care. ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola was passionate and straightforward in calling for a defense of health care coverage for low-income immigrants and communities of color. Her remarks brought a standing ovation as she referenced ICHS’ roots in offering hope to those who had little, and a safe harbor for those who might otherwise be turned away.

Batayola challenged attendees to join her in the fight ahead.

“We are fortunate to be in a state that believes in taking care of its low income, uninsured and under-insured residents. But the state will potentially lose $1.4 billion a year if the U.S. Senate adopts what the House passed,’ she said. “We need our entire community to reach out to their friends and families in other states to make sure that the U.S. Senate does not pass the AHCA.”

Read Teresita Batayola’s full speech

See the photos from the 2017 Bloom Gala

Learn about the 2017 Bloom Gala sponsors

ICHS will remain standing strong with open arms and open doors to serve anyone who needs us

Every year, ICHS faces countless challenges in providing affordable, high quality care to our communities. This year, ICHS faces especially tough challenges because of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, cut back Medicaid and reduce funding and programs for our communities. On Saturday, May 6, ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola addressed the audience at the 2017 Bloom Gala and delivered the following remarks:

It is always wonderful to be among friends and supporters of ICHS. Thank you so much for being here. Lori Matsukawa refers to me as the Energizer Bunny, but I can only do this work because I draw energy from all of you. Thank you to my family because they keep me normal. Thank you to all ICHS staff for serving our communities every day. But most of all, thank you to our leadership who make it possible for me to run ICHS and advocate for ICHS. Please recognize our CFO, Hermes Shahbazian, Health Services and Community Partnerships Director Michael McKee, Chief Medical Officer Anna Kaminski, Dental Director David Chen, and the glue that holds us all together, Chief Operating Officer Sherman Lohn.

Last year, we continued our trajectory of growth and innovation to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse populations who speak over 50 languages. We broadened our presence and deepened our service capacity, serving nearly 29,000 patients with approximately 55% needing interpretation. We expanded our Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and Nutrition program to all major sites, started the Young Adult Clinic in Shoreline, and are on track to open a vision clinic this year. We continue to make progress on a Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

Our staff has grown to 495 and we are increasing our efforts to develop staff that have the passion, commitment and cultural skills to serve our communities. Our family practice residency with Swedish Medical Center is entering its second year, our dental residency with the national Advanced Education in General Dentistry program will start its third round of residents this summer, and our ICHS-developed nurse practitioner residency program will welcome its fourth class this fall. Our goal is to develop employees at all levels, while working on a pipeline of workers from the communities we serve.

We do all this to meet our vision of healthy people, stronger families and vibrant communities.

But it’s not business as usual for ICHS. Until last year, our rallying cause was health care for all, advocating expansion to those who were not included in the Affordable Care Act. Or, dare I say it, Obamacare.

As a non-profit, ICHS has to be non-partisan. But being non-partisan does not mean being mute. We must act on issues that matter the most to our communities, our patients, our volunteers and our staff. ICHS is a community trust born of founders like Uncle Bob Santos and numerous others including Dr. Allen Muramoto, who saw the basic, aching need for health care in our community. They scraped together resources and pulled together volunteers to serve our elders and to advocate for their right to be served.

Today, our community’s trust in ICHS mandates a larger responsibility to speak, act and fight against diminishing our gains in health care.

We must speak when those with existing illnesses or pre-existing conditions lose guaranteed affordable and comprehensive health care coverage.

We must act when older people can be charged up to five times more than younger people.

We must fight when states can decide not to cover essential benefits like doctor visits, maternity and prenatal care, hospitalization, prescriptions, mental health, ambulance rides… and the list continues of potential opt-outs.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ hurried passage of the American Health Care Act (ACHA) did not have the benefit of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis. But we know that this bill is built on the original version that rolls back Medicaid and subsidized health plans for the working poor; that 24 million nationally stand to lose coverage within a decade. Up to 100,000 Washingtonians risk losing their private health care insurance and another 600,000 risk losing their coverage under Apple Health, our state Medicaid program. Six thousand ICHS patients are in jeopardy because they got covered when Medicaid was expanded to include families and individuals who earn low wages — a family of four making less than $40,000 a year or an individual who earns less than $17,000 a year. An additional 2,200 ICHS patients will no longer be able to afford insurance coverage because they will lose medical subsidies and tax credits. The many changes also include a cap on the federal share of Medicaid coverage. Oh, by the way, you might be interested to hear that there are $600 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy in this bill.

We are fortunate to be in a state that believes in taking care of its low income, uninsured and under-insured residents. But the state will potentially lose $1.4 billion a year if the U.S. Senate adopts what the U.S. House passed. Losing this funding means the state will have to make health care cuts for its most vulnerable populations.

When AHCA was pulled back from a vote in early March, many pronounced it dead. But two days ago, AHCA lived. It did not rise from the ashes like a phoenix but a zombie, an undead created at the cost of human lives. Many say that it will have a tough time in the Senate, it will take a long time to get a vote and that it will be much altered for the better.

Never underestimate the determination of those who push back against health care as a right. They are counting on us to be too tired of too many fights, to be too cynical, too quick to dismiss them as crazy, maybe even too wishful of moving to Canada…

ICHS believes in healthcare as a human right. As amazing and fierce as Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are — they need all of us to succeed against AHCA. We must find a way to refresh ourselves and persevere. We cannot stop. Let’s keep our attention on those the poor, elderly, women and many more at risk. Protest and act in all ways — marches, social media, emails, letters, phone calls to our senators but especially reach out to your families, friends and networks in other states to do the same and make an impact on their U.S. senators. AHCA is a line of defense we must win!

Because it isn’t just about health care. Executive orders, administrative actions, budgets, legislation and hate speech and actions target immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, LGBT, poor people, labor…  Women are the target of choice right now. But when a database of registry and internment camps based on religious or ethnic heritage are linked, throw Asians and Pacific Islanders on that list. The president himself told Time magazine that he does not know whether he would have supported or opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Few are exempt.

Our values of embracing and accepting everyone must anchor us. We must speak, act, resist, insist and persist! We must stand together, support each other, and when one is tired, help raise each other up.

We are all here tonight to help meet a simple need – supporting those who cannot afford health care. Raising your paddle tonight might feel like a narrow action but it is meaningful. ICHS’ uninsured rate went down from 30% to 11% under the Affordable Care Act. But that’s still over 3,000 patients we cared for who did not have insurance or whose insurance was only for catastrophic health crisis.  We have to fund $1.3 million dollars’ worth of care. Please be generous.

My promise to you, now and far into the future, ICHS will remain standing strong with open arms and open doors to serve anyone who needs us with affordable, high quality care. All are welcome. All are served.

Allen Muramoto and Country Doctor Community Health Centers will be honored at annual ICHS Bloom Gala


2017 Bamboo Award winners: Dr. Allen Muramoto and Country Doctor Community Health Centers

Dr. Allen Muramoto, a key figure in the founding of International Community Health Services (ICHS), will be honored along with Country Doctor Community Health Centers, a longtime collaborator and supporter of ICHS, at the annual Bloom Gala on Saturday, May 6 at the downtown Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

Each year, ICHS honors one individual and one organization whose service has improved the lives of ICHS target populations of disadvantaged and underserved residents at the Bloom Gala. The event brings together approximately 450 of the agency’s closest supporters to raise money to cover the costs of uncompensated care. Last year, ICHS provided $1.3 million in charity care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services.

“We take special pride in presenting the Bamboo Award for Health to Dr. Muramoto and Country Doctor this year,” ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola said. “Health care reform faces a huge turmoil. It is crucial that we continue to remember our driving mission to care for those who most need care. Allen Muramoto and Country Doc embody that driving mission. We honor them to ensure that we never forget who we serve.”

As a student at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Muramoto joined with other student activists in the spring of 1971 to form “Young Asians for Action” to provide free health services for Asian elderly who lacked access to affordable care. As a result of these efforts, ICHS opened its first clinic in 1973. In his retirement, Muramoto has returned to volunteer monthly at the ICHS International District clinic, providing pulmonary disease care to patients.

Country Doctor has been a close collaborator and avid supporter of ICHS for many years, providing vital clinical and administrative consultation, especially during ICHS’s formative years. Both agencies were part of a consortium of community clinics that sprang up in the early 1970s, founded on a shared vision of affordable health care as a basic human right. That vision led to the formation of the Community Health Plan of Washington in 1992, the first non-profit managed care plan in the state. “Country Doc took the lead in arranging for specialty and hospital care access for both our clients,” former ICHS Executive Director Dorothy Wong recalled. “They are an unsung hero in the history of ICHS.”

The Bloom Gala will take place on May 6 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and the program starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the 2017 Bloom Gala are available at www.ichs.com/bloom. For more information contact christinel@ichs.com or call (206) 788-3672.

Filipino health care leader retires after three decades of community service

Sefie and Jennifer Cabiao

Sefie Cabiao, a tireless and passionate advocate for Filipino American seniors in Seattle for over three decades, officially retired from her job at International Community Health Services (ICHS) on March 24, 2017.

Cabiao, employed as an ICHS community advocate, was a steadfast figure at events at the Filipino Community Center and at various health fairs and community forums across the city. She helped educate Filipino immigrants and families about issues such as diabetes awareness, breast and cervical health screening, nutrition, exercise and voter registration. Her fluency in Ilocano and Tagalog allowed her to build bridges between the community and the non-profit realm in which she worked.

“Sefie is one big heart in her love for the Filipino community and ICHS,” Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO, said. “Add her tenacity and her commitment to that heart and you can immediately feel the huge hole caused by her retirement.  We are forever grateful knowing she will always be in the community connecting others to ICHS.”

ICHS community advocate Angela Wan, who has worked alongside Cabiao for 12 years, is sad to see her go, but noted that Cabiao would remain part of the ICHS family. “She is so beloved because of her kindness and willingness to reach out to help people,” Wan said. “Everyone in the Filipino community knows her.”

It was not uncommon for strangers to recognize Cabiao, even on flights to the Philippines. “One time, when I was in the air, someone tapped my bag,” Cabiao said. “This person said, ‘I see you’re here. I’ve been looking for you for a month.” This person had been seeking help with medical insurance.

Prior to joining ICHS, Cabiao was employed at the International District Housing Alliance, working with seniors in need of housing, health care and help in domestic violence situations. During that era, many old hotels in the International District were substandard. “When we went to check on the Filipino manongs, we would open the door and the cockroaches are flying everywhere,” she recalled. “The residents were frail and sick. They didn’t have relatives here either. We would check their refrigerators and make sure they were getting food and proper medical attention.”

Cabiao left the Housing Alliance during a funding shortfall. She said she was hired by ICHS in March, 1998 as a community outreach worker, working with the elderly. “When I first came here, I see that there is a gap between the higher level staff and the community advocates,” she said. “In the beginning, I did not even have a desk. I had to share a space at a work table. Now, as I leave ICHS, things have improved. I’m happy to leave because I can see a kind of family unity between the different levels of ICHS.”

Even in retirement, Cabiao will remain close to the ICHS family. Her daughter, Jennifer, works as ICHS contracts coordinator. Jennifer joined the agency in 2005 after she was asked by her mom to help fill a temporary administrative position.

“I thought I was going to be here for three months,” Jennifer said. “Three months turned into a year. A year has turned into 12 years.”

Has the retirement of her mother from ICHS affected Jennifer?

“Since we worked in separate departments, it really doesn’t make much of a difference,” Jennifer said. “My mom is still going to be out in the community. So just because she’s retiring, it doesn’t mean she’s retiring from everything else she does.”

Any favorite stories about her mother?

“Oh, there’s one,” Jennifer said. “About four or five years ago, she got stuck in the elevator in the ID clinic during a blackout. She panicked and called me on her cell phone. Good thing she had her phone with her—because she usually doesn’t. I said, ‘What’s going on? Where are you?’ She said, ‘I’m stuck in the elevator and it’s all dark.’ I told her to just hold on because the fire department was coming. She has a tendency to exaggerate and she said, ‘It’s getting so hot. I can’t breathe.’ Everyone told her, ‘Sefie, just stay put. Don’t panic.’ Eventually, she got out after an hour. I had gone back to my desk to work. It was a very busy day. I thought that was pretty funny.”

ICHS ID clinic welcomes Senator Maria Cantwell for health care roundtable

From left: ICHS community advocate Aleks Poseukova, ICHS patient Grigory Vodolazov, ICHS director of health services and community partnerships, Senator Maria Cantwell, and ICHS Foundation director Ron Chew


On February 23, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell hosted a 90-minute health care roundtable at International Community Health Services (ICHS) to hear testimony about the impact of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to listen to concerns about looming changes to the health care law.

During the wide-ranging and sometimes emotional discussion at the ICHS clinic in the International District, over a dozen local health care providers, advocates and Medicaid patients weighed in by sharing statistics and personal stories about how the Medicaid expansion has dramatically improved the quality of life for local residents, especially those who had previously been shut out of the health care system.

The speakers included representatives from the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center, Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, Disability Rights Washington, AARP Washington, Planned Parenthood, King County Community and Human Services Division, and King County NAACP.

Representing ICHS at the roundtable were Michael McKee, director of health services and community partnerships, and ICHS patient Grigory Vodolazov, a Russian immigrant with two children on Medicaid, including one with special needs.

During the roundtable, Cantwell noted that more than 600,000 people have gained access to care through the expansion of Medicaid, including 147,250 in King County. Over 432,000 people in King County are covered through Medicaid.

Cantwell cautioned that converting federal funds for Medicaid into block grants to the states could lead to an erosion of health care coverage for millions of low-income patients in the U.S., an increased burden on hospitals to provide costly emergency care and worse health outcomes. She vowed to return to Washington D.C. to fight for retention of expanded health care coverage and champion true health care innovation.

ICHS raises $31,000 to support charity care at Lunar New Year 5k in Shoreline

Over 260 individuals braved the snow and the freezing cold to participate in the second annual Lunar New Year 5k in Shoreline on Sunday, February 26, raising over $31,000 to support health care for needy patients at International Community Health Services (ICHS).

“We were pleasantly surprised by the turnout, given the awful weather conditions,” Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director said. “Over 340 people registered, so we did have no-shows, but not as many as we expected. The participants were spirited and very supportive. Best of all, we exceeded our fundraising goal.”

See the list of the 2017 Lunar New Year 5K sponsors.

In 2016, ICHS hosted the first ever Lunar New Year 5k at the Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue. This year’s event featured an out-and-back course on the Interurban Trail in Shoreline.

Many participants at Sunday’s event wore “Super Al” superhero capes in honor of the late Al Sugiyama, a beloved community leader who passed away in January after a fierce battle with cancer. Sugiyama, who participated in the Bellevue 5k, had planned to join in this year event, too. His two daughters and other family members walked in his stead.

Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts kicked off the event with welcoming remarks, lauding the diversity of his city. The Mak Fai Kung Fu Club performed a Chinese lion dance to welcome the Year of the Rooster.

The Silver Striders, a state-wide organization of runners and walkers aged 50 and older, sponsored the event as part of its Grand Prix series. Six of the top 10 finishers were Silver Striders, including 53-year old Brig Seidl, the first place winner who completed the 5k in a time of 18:55.

ICHS was established in 1973 as a free storefront clinic in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, providing bilingual health care to low-income residents. The agency now offers services through its seven locations, including new clinics in Bellevue and Shoreline. Last year, ICHS served over 28,300 unduplicated patients and provided interpretation in 53 languages.

Last year, ICHS provided $1.2 million in charity care. Proceeds from the Shoreline 5k will go toward supporting care for these patients in need.

“So many low-income immigrants and refugees rely on ICHS as their lifeline,” Chew said. “Supporting these patients and celebrating the New Year with a healthy, family-friendly winter activity was the vision behind our event.”

The 37,000 sq. ft. ICHS Shoreline medical-dental clinic is located at 16549 Aurora Ave. N. The new three-story facility opened in September, 2014 as the first non-profit community health center in Shoreline. Last September, the clinic started a Young Adult Clinic. Last month, a new pharmacy opened on the first floor.

Check out photos of the Lunar New Year 5K on the ICHS Facebook page

See the race results for the 2017 Lunar New Year 5K

Make a donation to support patient care at ICHS

ARNP Residency Program Grows in National Recognition

From left: William Hoskyn, DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP,  Kelsey Tanaka, Hyelim Park, Dr. Beth Weitensteiner

Three years ago, ICHS launched its Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Residency Program, a program designed to prepare newly licensed and certified nurse practitioners for careers as primary care providers in a community health setting. After rigorous review, the program received accreditation from the National Nurse Practitioner Residency & Fellowship Training Consortium, making it the first accredited program in the Washington State and the second in the nation.

The nurse practitioner residency was pioneered by ICHS provider DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP. As part of her doctoral thesis, Huynh wanted to develop a training program for new family practice providers to teach them essential skills for serving patients with complex health needs and address systemic inequalities that affect their health.

“The unique population of immigrants and refugees we see at ICHS made it the perfect place to develop this program,” says Huynh, who also serves as the Director of the ARNP Residency Program.

Huynh was named Washington State’s American Association of Nurse Practitioner of the Year in 2016 for her work in developing the residency program. Because of the growing national recognition for the program, ICHS received 40 applications for three highly-coveted slots in its 2016-2017 class.

“I have been so impressed with the caliber of applicants we have attracted to this program,” says Dr. Beth Weitensteiner, ICHS provider and Deputy Director for the ARNP Residency Program. “This year’s group is amazing and incredibly talented.”

“The fact that our residents reach out to their own classmates and networks to recruit for us speaks to the quality of the training and curriculum we have developed here,” adds Huynh.

So far, six ARNPs have completed the challenging curriculum and continued on as primary care providers at the ICHS clinics.  When the residency program first began, the ICHS International District (ID) clinic served as the training site for the residents. In its third year, the program moved to the ICHS Holly Park clinic.

Learn more about the ICHS ARNP Residency Program

Learn more about the providers at ICHS

Learn about the ICHS Family Medicine Residency Program

Learn about the ICHS Primary Care Dental Residency Program