International Community Health Services (ICHS) and the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington recently highlighted the power of storytelling as a tool to raise awareness of Hepatitis B. Although often at greater risk, many within U.S. immigrant and minority communities are reluctant to speak openly about the bloodborne disease, increasing the chances of developing serious health issues, including liver cancer.
On May 10, ICHS and the coalition jointly hosted the 2018 Annual Community Forum on Hepatitis B, inviting community leaders, health advocates and organizations to hear speakers from the #Just B Story Telling Project share firsthand experiences. Afterwards, attendees discussed how Hepatitis B continues to disproportionately affect the Asian Pacific Islander and African immigrant and refugee communities and renewed their commitment to raise awareness and knowledge about the disease.
“This was our first live storytelling event, so we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Mohammed Abdul-Kadir, Hepatitis Coalition of Washington coordinator. “Our courageous and well-trained storytellers effectively demonstrated how the sharing of authentic human experiences immediately breaks down barriers. Attendees were engaged, leading to an especially vibrant post-presentation discussion.”
“It was very powerful to hear the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by the Hepatitis B virus,” said an attendee. Another described the forum as “phenomenal.”
Abdul-Kadir was recently asked to share best practices in reducing cultural, linguistic and systemic barriers to Hepatitis B care by PRIME Education, LLC (PRIME®), a leader in quality improvement education. On May 23, Abdul-Kadir participated in a taping of a training video that will soon be offered to medical providers as part of PRIME’s continuing education curriculum.
On May 22, King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked International Community Health Services’ (ICHS) CEO Teresita Batayola for the health center’s role keeping kids healthy and learning at Highland Middle School. Executive Constantine was at the school to celebrate the partnerships behind ICHS’s school-based health center, which opened this fall as the first in Bellevue, and discuss connecting youth in King County with resources to stay strong and successful.
Batayola joined leaders from Best Starts for Kids, Youth Eastside Services (YES), Bellevue School District and Highland Middle School as they discussed serving an increasingly diverse Eastside community and the challenges facing immigrant and refugee youth and families.
“Immigrant and refugee youth carry the burden of making sure their families are connected,” said Batayola. “The stress and anxiety for them is huge.”
Following the discussion, Sherryl Grey, ICHS health and school services manager, provided Executive Constantine with a tour of the school’s clinic, including a tour of ICHS’s mobile dental clinic, which provides mobile dental services to schools around King County.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) honors the memory and mourns the passing of longtime community activist and dear friend Tosh Okamoto, who passed away on May 19.
“Tosh was one of my personal heroes and one of a handful of our community giants,” Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director, said. “He was a visionary with a lifelong passion for health access, social justice and community empowerment. He was one of the most humble, compassionate and committed individuals I’ve ever known. At ICHS, we cherish his memory.”
Okamoto, a co-founder of Nikkei Concerns and longtime member and former commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee, changed countless lives for the better by helping establish the first Japanese American nursing home in the Pacific Northwest and fighting for the long-overdue recognition of thousands of Japanese American veterans who fought for the U.S. during World War II.
In 2015, Okamoto was recognized with the ICHS Bamboo Award for Health, honoring his work to improve the lives of disadvantaged and underserved local residents. In 2006, the Consul General of Japan presented him with the Order of the Rising Sun award in honor of his tireless work on behalf of the Japanese American community and in fostering friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) Foundation raised more than $250,000 to support uncompensated care at its annual Bloom Gala, held on May 5, attracting nearly 400 guests at the downtown Seattle Sheraton. Major gifts included $25,000 from the KeyBank Foundation, $20,000 from the Sheng Yen Lu Foundation and $10,000 from the Ark and Winnie Chin Foundation. Last year, ICHS provided $1.3 million in care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services.
“I thank everyone who turned out tonight to ‘Raise the Paddle’ and give so generously,” said ICHS Foundation director Ron Chew. “ICHS is fortunate to have the support of so many who share our vision of healthier people, thriving families, empowered communities and a just society.”
Batayola’s keynote speech reminded attendees of ICHS’s early founders, local university students and activists, who envisioned providing a place to care for the health care needs of low income, elderly Filipino and Chinese-speaking residents of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. She drew parallels between their initial dream and ICHS’s efforts to fill the needs of a new generation of patients and immigrant arrivals.
“Much of what our founders fought for—and the proud legacy we stand on—continues to be under siege from national leaders who stoke fear and animosity against immigrants and refugees,” she said. “We will not be cowed into inaction.”
Veteran pharmaceutical executive Rachel Koh joins as senior director of pharmacy services
International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced Rachel Koh has been named senior director of pharmacy services, a newly created leadership position that will drive enhancements to ICHS’s pharmacy capabilities. Koh will be responsible for the administration of ICHS’s retail pharmacy operations, management of medication and vaccines within ICHS clinics, and developing new models of pharmacy care for ICHS’s rapidly expanding senior services programs.
Koh most recently served as the vice president of clinical product strategy for ZeOmega, where she helped develop new product and market strategies. She also led all certification and accreditation efforts. A pharmacist by training, Koh has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical and health care leadership experience.
“ICHS is constantly evolving with the changing needs of our patients, many of whom are low income, immigrants or refugees who face challenges to access to health care and affordable prescription drugs,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “As we add Rachel to the leadership team, we are strengthening our institutional response to the needs of our diverse communities, and to a sizeable local population that is getting older. A strong model of pharmacy care is important as we implement innovative programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly that allow them to ‘age in place’ within familiar and supportive surroundings.”
“I look forward to Rachel’s contributions as ICHS seeks greater efficiency and enhanced capabilities in giving our patients excellent and affordable pharmacy-related care,” said Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “Her background and experience will be invaluable as we seek greater standardization of pharmacy operations, streamline the delivery of ICHS’s pharmacy services and boost patients’ access to new and emerging drugs and treatments.”
Prior to ZeOmega, Koh was associate vice president of pharmacy for Community Health Plan Washington, where she oversaw administration of pharmacy benefits. She also served in pharmacy leadership roles for organizations including Community Health Plan Washington, Group Health Cooperative and Eckerd Drugs. Koh has a MBA from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s of pharmacy from the University of Kansas.
“I’m excited about joining ICHS and returning to the non-profit sector,” said Koh. “As a first generation immigrant, I feel a strong connection to the ICHS mission and the communities it serves. I look forward to using my knowledge and experience, particularly in advanced technology applications that enhance delivery of health services, to expand the scope of ICHS’s pharmacy care.”
Three days out of seven, Lucia Leandro Gimeno, a 38-year-old trans person who often goes by “LL,” goes to dialysis treatment. After a scary hospital stay less than a year ago, LL was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure, which means LL’s own kidneys can no longer do the important job of removing the body’s waste.
Today, LL looks dapper in a bright tee and scarf, the demands of a disease that requires constant medication, treatment and need for rest, camouflaged with an upbeat smile.
Medicaid and Medicare keep LL working and productive, but uncertainty over federal funding of these programs, and the health safety net that LL and many disabled people rely upon, leaves unsettling questions.
“The stress that I deal with, besides the lack of awareness around trans issues, is the stress around finances and health benefits. I don’t make that much money,” said LL.
LL is a trained doula and head of a non-profit that provides doula services to Seattle’s trans community. LL, who attended protests as a youth with two activist parents, is outspoken against efforts to curtail access to affordable health care, “It costs way less to provide free health care and education than it does to go elsewhere to bomb the s**t out of some other country or lock people in prison.”
The nation’s lack of health equity is like, “not being able to get ahead because you started a few steps behind.”
A key part of the support system that keeps LL well and whole, is International Community Health Services (ICHS), a non-profit health center with a clinic in Seattle’s Holly Park neighborhood. Just a short walk from LL’s home, LL’s primary care provider, Dr. Jessica Guh, and an integrated team of heath care professionals, keep watch over all aspects of LL’s wellbeing.
Jie Chen, pharmacy supervisor at ICHS’ Holly Park clinic, gave one example, “The pharmacy team plays an active role caring for a patient like LL, who takes multiple medications and receives treatment from multiple sources. We make sure there is constant monitoring and safety. Perhaps most importantly, we really work to build trust over time.”
The ICHS team not only helps LL manage a potentially fatal disease, they deliver care that is sensitive to the nuances of LL’s gender identity and need for gentle handling after trauma from past medical exams. This is a first for LL, whose early experiences with the medical community left deep distrust. LL says ICHS is the first place to give such complete care.
“What you have here at ICHS is really special. I feel genuinely grateful because I do not like doctors. I don’t trust them. But that is definitely shifting because of my experience here.” LL feels at home at ICHS, “This is the best medical care I have ever had. I feel like I’m with family. I like the diversity of people and languages. That’s what I grew up with.”
Mindful of the power of making one’s voice heard, LL has a message for lawmakers. Preserve affordable health care that allows people to benefit from health centers like ICHS, “Unless you’ve lived our experiences, you can’t make decisions about our lives. And if you have, try not to forget what that feels like.”
International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced five recipients of the 2018 Bloom Gala Sapphire Leadership Award, to be given at the 2018 Bloom Gala on May 5.
The Sapphire Leadership Award was designated in celebration of ICHS’ 45th anniversary to honor ICHS leaders, both past and present, for transforming ICHS from a small, storefront clinic into a health center providing comprehensive care with medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmaceutical and other health services at eight clinic locations.
“I’m pleased we are recognizing long-standing board members Janyce Ko Fisher and Hiroshi Nakano. We’re equally pleased to honor Dorothy Wong, Dr. Alan Chun and Hermes Shahbazian for their seminal leadership in adding behavioral health and dental services, and acknowledging our communities’ health care needs beyond the Chinatown/International District to open the Holly Park clinic. These steps advanced ICHS beyond its birth origins,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “These leaders offer us inspiration and a reminder to dream and persevere as we face new challenges and as those we serve face new threats to continued access to affordable, high quality health care.”
ICHS Sapphire Leadership Award recipients
Each year, ICHS honors those whose service has improved the lives of ICHS target populations of disadvantaged and underserved residents at the Bloom Gala. This year’s award goes to:
Hiroshi has served on the ICHS Board since 1997, often filling key leadership roles. He is a long-time ICHS consumer. He currently serves on the Quality Management Committee and Compliance Committee. He is vice president of value based initiatives for Valley Medical Center and serves as a member of the Washington Health Exchange Board.
Hiroshi has worked in the health care field for the past 30 years. “My greatest accomplishment was helping stabilize the ICHS board during a turbulent time in its evolution, getting alignment on a common mission and building new leadership. We’ve had success, but it has taken 15 years. A lot of non-profits fail at this. A lot of credit goes to the community for rallying to support ICHS at key junctures when we’ve needed them.”
Janyce Ko Fisher
Janyce Ko Fisher first joined ICHS in the early 1970s as a volunteer lab technician at the Asian Community Health Clinic on Beacon Hill, the forerunner to ICHS. Recruited to the cause by Dr. Allen Muramoto, an activist and founder honored by the ICHS Foundation in 2017, Janyce has served on the ICHS Board since 1975. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1971 with a medical technologist degree. Janyce has been working as clinical laboratory scientist at Seattle Children’s Hospital since 2001.
Janyce says she continues to be inspired by the ICHS mission of service to the community and providing quality affordable care to underserved populations. “I can’t believe how much ICHS has grown from that small free weekly clinic on Beacon Hill. It’s given me great satisfaction to be part of this.”
Dorothy served as ICHS executive director from 1993 to 2005. During her tenure, ICHS helped establish the Community Health Plan of Washington, the first not-for-profit managed care plan in Washington State. Under Dorothy, ICHS grew from a budget of $1.9 million to $15 million and ICHS expanded its services to Holly Park, and the ID clinic found a new home in the International District Village Square. After leaving ICHS, she worked as executive director of Chinese Information and Services Center from 2013 until October 2017.
Dorothy says her proudest moment was getting ICHS into the ID Village Square. “We were in a spacious facility that met health code requirements and we got new furniture and medical equipment. We also added dental services at this site. The momentum from this community effort allowed ICHS to move into major growth mode going forward. We were no longer this raggedy, storefront operation.”
Dr. Alan Chun
Dr. Chun is a medical doctor at the ICHS International District Clinic. He has been at ICHS since 1994, serving as medical director for over a decade immediately after his hiring. He is a Honolulu native and a graduate of the University of Hawaii School of Medicine. Dr. Chun, a third-generation Chinese American, says one benefit of working at ICHS has been the opportunity to learn more Cantonese from his patients and to focus on the care of seniors. “During the past two-and-a-half decades at ICHS, I’ve gotten older along with my patients, so we’ve been able to share the challenges of being an older person together.”
Hermes is chief financial officer at ICHS. His work has been pivotal in transforming the organization from a small storefront clinic into a regional health care provider. During his tenure, ICHS has grown from 15 to over 500 employees. Last year, Hermes was honored by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of the region’s top CFOs.
Hermes says every day at ICHS brings something new. “Every day, month and year, we have a new initiative and project to implement. Since day one it has been like working at a startup company. It is never boring. We are always exploring new locations, additional services, upgrading software and infrastructure and finding new revenue sources. It is extremely satisfying to work in a diverse workplace and serve patients from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.”
ICHS’ 45-year legacy began with serving elderly residents in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District to become a thriving regional organization with over 500 employees that treated nearly 31,000 patients last year, and provided assistance in over 134,000 visits with health education, outreach & enrollment, eligibility and other services.
2018 Bloom Gala tickets available now
The Bloom Gala brings together approximately 450 supporters to raise money to cover the costs of uncompensated care. Last year, ICHS provided nearly $1.3 million in care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services. This year’s Bloom Gala will take place on May 5 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.ichs.com/bloom. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (206) 788-3672.
International Community Health Services celebrated the Bellevue School District’s first school-based health center at an open house on April 5, 2018.
ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola was among those on hand to tour the Highland Middle School-Based Health Center, an effort joined by Youth Eastside Services (YES) and the Bellevue School District to provide integrated health care to students within their school with funding from Best Start for Kids and support from King Country.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) received a $25,000 grant from the KeyBank Foundation, as part of its April 3 Community Impact Day that totaled over $1.9 million to almost 20 nonprofits in the greater Seattle area. ICHS will use the funds to provide uncompensated care for target King County minority populations. In 2017, ICHS provided $1,265,435 in uncompensated care. Among nearly 31,000 patients, 41% were at or below the federal poverty level, 81% were people of color and 55% spoke limited English and needed interpretation services.
“We’re honored KeyBank recognizes ICHS’ work and success improving the health and wellness of our diverse communities with this $25,000 grant,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “KeyBank’s award will support ICHS health services for many of the area’s neediest and most vulnerable, including immigrants, refugees, elderly and the young.”
“Our mission is to help our communities thrive,” said KeyBank CEO Beth Mooney, who was in town from KeyBank’s Cleveland headquarters to announce the grants with Carol K. Nelson, pacific regional sales executive and Seattle market president. “Philanthropy is part of KeyBank’s DNA, and we are dedicated to building stronger communities and improving the lives of the people we call neighbors in the places we call home.”
Many of the nonprofit recipients were chosen by local Key Business Impact Networking Groups (KBINGs), employee groups that are a vital part of Key’s diversity and inclusion strategy to help KeyBank attract, engage, develop and retain a diverse workforce and inform Key’s business strategies. Seattle has eight active KBINGs: Key Executive Women’s Network, Young Professionals, Military Inclusion, African American, Asian/ Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latino, Champions of People of All Abilities and LGBTQA. The groups were on hand to help distribute the donations.
In the Seattle region, KeyBank actively invests in the communities it serves through philanthropy, volunteerism and board service.