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.