ICHS earns national recognition for commitment to improve high blood pressure

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is pleased to be recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) as a leader in the national effort to get patient blood pressure rates under control and reduce the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year.

As part of the 2019 Target: BP Recognition Program, AHA and AMA awarded ICHS with Gold Status—one of just 542 physician practices and health systems to be recognized for achieving blood pressure control rates of 70% or more in their adult patient population with high blood pressure. A total of 1,183 physician practices and health systems nationwide were recognized by the program for their commitment to help patients improve blood pressure control. The recognized organizations represent 29.8 million adult patients, with more than 8 million patients diagnosed with hypertension, across 46 states and territories.

Launched in 2015, Target: BP is a national initiative between the AHA and AMA aimed at addressing the growing burden of high blood pressure in the U.S. The initiative aims to help health care organizations improve blood pressure control rates through use of the AMA’s evidence-based M.A.P. quality improvement program, and recognizes organizations committed to improving blood pressure control.

“ICHS is committed to providing our patients with tools and treatment to effectively manage high blood pressure, so they remain at their healthy best and avoid more serious health risks,” said Asqual Getanah, ICHS medical director. “We are honored to be recognized by the AHA and AMA for high quality care. This achievement is the result of a strong and coordinated team effort to ensure patients have regular access to care, are aware of healthy lifestyle choices and take the right medicines.”

There are 116 million U.S. adults living with high blood pressure, the nation’s number one risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and less than half have it controlled to target level. Many patients are unaware of the deadly consequences associated with high blood pressure and that it can be managed working in partnership with their physician to create and follow a treatment plan.

“Although we have the tools to treat high blood pressure, many patients face a variety of barriers that make it difficult to successfully manage the condition. That’s why the American Heart Association and American Medical Association created the Target: BP initiative—to bring patients and providers together to successfully get blood pressure under control,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “We applaud the physicians who are already working hard to control their patients’ blood pressure, and we will continue to urge more physician practices, health systems and patients to join this effort to prioritize the rising risk of high blood pressure and improve health outcomes for patients across the nation.”

“Collaboration is key to managing high blood pressure,” said AHA President Robert Harrington, MD, FAHA. “When doctors, clinics, patients and organizations like the American Heart Association and American Medical Association are all working towards the same goal, we have the opportunity for great success. We are pleased to be a part of the success of so many practices – and so many patients – in reducing high blood pressure and improving health.”

ICHS, along with all other practices and health systems being recognized, will be featured in upcoming Target: BP materials. This includes appearing in national journal ads, on TargetBP.org, and acknowledged at AMA and AHA events throughout the year.

Caring for our communities, from within our communities

On September 27, seven proud graduates of the ICHS Community Health Worker Internship Program came to the end of their journey more empowered to help the African, Asian and African American communities in South Seattle be healthy and thrive.

Community health workers have a deep understanding of their ethnic, cultural or religious communities to serve as a vital frontline resource. They are a trusted bridge between people who might otherwise have difficulty – because of language, culture, cost or other barriers – reaching social and health services. They provide health education and referrals, advocate for people and their communities, help fill out paperwork, and provide emotional support and guidance.

“So much was taught in a short time through monthly trainings and I can use the skills in the community,” said Rose Idambituo Idey. “I feel confident talking to people about health issues such as nutrition, breast cancer prevention, diabetes, blood pressure, alcohol and tobacco use, and mental health. This is an education I will have all my life.”

The ICHS internship program was made possible by a grant from Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with King County Public Health. Over a six-month period, participants were trained to work directly with their communities, as well as engaged in events and special projects.

“Community health workers are a well-recognized workforce to help reduce health disparities and improve health equity,” said Rana Amini, ICHS health services manager, and the program’s founder. “The most important factor is identifying passionate community members and providing adequate training and mentorship.”

“This team has inspired me to conduct outreach with a fresh outlook and renewed enthusiasm,” said Miran Hothi, ICHS lead community advocate and the program’s head trainer. “They developed creative and imaginative approaches in the field, which resulted in improving the health outcomes of the community.”

Three participants have opted to continue the internship through a second year to focus on developing their leadership skills, working four hours per week from the ICHS Holly Park Clinic.

“I am grateful for the skills I have gained because they have given me the confidence to advocate for my community, my family and myself,” said participant Carrie Robersone.


Congratulations to our graduates: Diem Trinh, Carrie Robersone, Aparna Kamalpuram, Rose Idey, William Koy, Francoise Milinganyo and Delphin Zaki.

Teresita Batayola Recognized as One of the Most Influential Filipina Women in the World

Batayola is honored as one of the most influential Filipina women in the world in the “Builder” category.

From Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, Teresita Batayola, president and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), joined other women leaders at the16th Filipina Leadership Global Summit in Paris, France. During an awards ceremony on Oct. 31, the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) honored her as one of the most influential Filipina women in the world.

FWN recognizes women of Philippine ancestry who are changing the face of leadership in the global workplace. Batayola, honored under the “Builder” award category, was selected from an outstanding field of nominees from around the world. “Builders” have demonstrated exceptional organizational impact at a large workplace environment; displaying deep passion for a cause through collaborative initiatives or alliances with institutions, corporations or nonprofit organizations.

“I was astounded when Dr. Maria Beebe, my high school teacher and adviser, nominated me,” Batayola said. “Dr. Beebe is the epitome of this award as an esteemed professor and author. She is active globally to establish the image of FIlipinas as formidable leaders.” Batayola reconnected with Beebe only in the last year. “To join past and present awardees from other countries is beyond excitement,” she continued. “I am deeply grateful to FWN for bringing the Filipina women of the world together to plan the future for our communities and next generation leaders.” Nominees undergo a vigorous vetting process conducted by previous global awardees.

Batayola (left) with Dr. Maria Africa Beebe, FWN board member.

Batayola has led ICHS since 2005. She is a prominent national advocate of affordable health care and health equity. Ron Chew, director of the ICHS Foundation, said, “I’m not surprised she’s getting this award. She’s one of the most dynamic, innovative and effective leaders in the country. Under her inspired leadership, ICHS has grown into a vibrant regional health care network with 11 service sites in Washington state.” Washington Governor Jay Inslee appointed Batayola in 2015 to the Seattle Colleges board of trustees, where she served as board chair from 2016 to 2017 and continues to serve as a trustee today. Batayola is a past president of the Washington Association of Community Health and serves on the boards of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, the Community Health Plan, Community Health Network and the Forterra Strong Communities Fund.

Teresita Batayola gives a talk on leadership, team building and succession at the16th Filipina Leadership Global Summit .

ICHS Receives National Awards for High Quality Care

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is among 26 community health centers in Washington state to receive federal awards totaling over $3 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The award was announced at ICHS’s International District Clinic on Aug. 22, by Sharon Turner, U.S. HRSA Region X administrator. She was also joined by Aphrodyi Antoine, HRSA deputy administrator, and John R. Graham, HHS Region 10 regional director. “I have the honor of recognizing International Community Health Services in person on behalf of Health Resources and Services Administration, for their incredible quality achievements and ranking in the top 20% for clinical quality measures nationally,” said Turner. “The Quality Improvement Awards recognize the highest performing health centers nationwide, as well as those health centers that have made significant quality improvement gains from the previous year. Health centers will use these funds to improve the quality, efficiency, and value of health care.”

ICHS received a grant award of $142,432. HRSA has named ICHS a Health Center Quality Leader every year since 2014, and a National Quality Leader in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.

“ICHS and health centers across the nation are at the forefront of addressing the public need for affordable care, as well as acute challenges such as the opioid epidemic,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “These awards will help ICHS continue to meet emerging health care needs and advance the wellness of our communities.”

For a list of 2019 Quality Improvement Award recipients,
visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/qualityimprovement/index.html

From left: Sharon Turner, U.S. HRSA Region X administrator; Teresita Batayola, ICHS president and CEO; Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS medical director; and John Graham, HHS Region 10 regional director.

ICHS earns national recognition for efforts to reduce heart attacks and strokes

ICHS Medical Director Dr. Asqual Getaneh (far right) and ICHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rayburn Lewis present staff with the Target: BP award on behalf of the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association.

International Community Health Services (ICHS) patients are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke thanks to the health center’s success rate in controlling hypertension.

ICHS’s efforts were recently recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) through its “Target: BP” program, which aims to improve blood pressure control and build a healthier nation. ICHS earned gold status as one of just 340 physician practices and health systems to achieve blood pressure control rates of 70 percent or greater for adult patients in 2018. Of the 103 million Americans with high blood pressure, less than half have it under control.

“Thank you to all ICHS providers for working so hard to keep our patients healthy,” said Dr. Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “No single risk factor has more impact on whether or not cardiovascular disease ends up being a killer than high blood pressure. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be managed under the care of a professional staff of physicians and advanced practice clinicians. We connect our patients to dieticians, health educators and clinical pharmacists to make sure they are eating right, seeing their doctor regularly and taking their medication properly. Additionally, we make sure our training reflects best practices for taking blood pressure readings and that hypertension data is recorded accurately.”

Launched in 2015, Target: BP is a national initiative of the AHA and AMA aimed at addressing the growing issue of high blood pressure. More than 1,600 physician practices and health systems nationwide have joined Target: BP.

ICHS patients can now access free legal help

ELAP partnership, Bellevue ClinicInternational Community Health Services and Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) today announced a partnership that will give low income patients free legal services. Patients referred from ICHS’s Bellevue Clinic can meet with ELAP’s attorneys for advice on issues impacting their ability to stay in good health.

“ICHS cares for patients holistically. There are many factors that impact whether someone can access and benefit from quality, preventative health care,” said Vanja Knezevic, ICHS Bellevue health center manager. ”Often, low-income and marginalized patients face social issues that can exacerbate health issues. For example, a person who is facing eviction is more likely to be stressed or depressed. Someone who is wrongfully denied public benefits might be prevented from providing healthy nutrition for their family. We’re seeking to lessen these potential health impacts.”

The health care teams at ICHS’s Bellevue Clinic will work closely with ELAP’s legal aid attorneys to identify patients who qualify. Referred patients will meet with an attorney for sessions that will be scheduled at ICHS’s Bellevue Clinic.

“We are excited to move forward with ICHS,” said Gerald Kroon, ELAP executive director. “This innovative partnership will increase access to much needed civil legal aid, addressing legal issues that adversely affect a person’s medical wellbeing.”

The new partnership is being announced as a six-month pilot program, initially only available by referral through ICHS’s Bellevue Clinic, with the possibility of being extended to include ICHS’s three other full service clinics as future funding and interest allow. Services will be 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 2018.