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.

Bellevue students to access better health for better learning

ICHS puts counseling and health services in easy reach at Highland Middle School

An International Community Health Services (ICHS) clinic offered in partnership with Youth Eastside Services (YES) and the Bellevue School District is opening at Highland Middle School this fall. The school-based clinic promises to improve Bellevue teens’ school attendance, graduation rates and achievement, as it puts counseling and health services right in students’ midst.

Students will be able to see an ICHS health provider for treatment of illnesses, injuries and ongoing health problems; as well as for well child checkups and immunizations. YES’ therapists will help students with issues such as depression, anxiety, family stress and substance abuse.

“In bringing clinical services to students, ICHS, the Bellevue School District and YES are effectively removing barriers to care and creating greater health equity,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “This is especially important for Bellevue’s diverse community. When we take care of students’ social, emotional and physical wellbeing they are more focused and present for learning. Ultimately, students’ better health leads to better educational outcomes.”

These are fraught times for parents and teens. Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, a TV-series depicting teen suicide, a distracted driving bill recently approved by Washington state, and a report in March from the American Academy of Pediatrics that warns against early marijuana use, underscore the rise in teen health risks. East King County is no exception.

According to the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, nearly one in four of 6th and 8th graders in the Bellevue School District reported being bullied in the past 30 days, and 29% of 10th graders reported feeling depressed within the past year. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens between 15 and 24 years old in Washington.

“YES is eager to further deepen our long-term relationship with the Bellevue School District, forge our first formal partnership with ICHS, and integrate our work to meet the physical, mental health, and wellness needs of Eastside youth,” said David Downing, YES associate director. “Following a 10-year national trend, we have seen the same increase in stress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts among the youth we serve. Through this partnership at Highland Middle School, we will provide critical support for student success with an onsite, full-time and integrated team that will prevent and intervene with the many challenges students face today.”

Greater health equity keeps kids in school
Bellevue is a diverse city with large Asian and Hispanic populations, and with areas of high poverty. Highland Middle School reflects this diversity. More than 40% of the school’s students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

ICHS’ multilingual and culturally aware staff and providers will help address acute challenges that include disproportionately high dropout and truancy rates among Highland Middle School’s Hispanic students.

In some areas of Bellevue, ethnic minorities make up more than 60% of the population. Asians represent the largest ethnic minority group, at 29% of the population, followed by Hispanics and Latinos, a group that increased nearly 50% between 2000 and 2010. One-third of Highland Middle School students speak a language other than English as their primary language.

Better breast health with $63K Komen Community Grant

Breast cancer screening is essential to wellness for all women, but not all women have equal access to the proper information and care. International Community Health Services (ICHS) was recently awarded a $63,000 community grant from Susan G. Komen Puget Sound to promote breast health education and reduce health disparities throughout King County.

Breast cancer prevention is strongly tied to early detection. Women in medically underserved communities can encounter obstacles to breast health services, including, but not limited to inaccurate information, cultural and language barriers, and a lack of transportation.

“King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have a higher than average number of advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis and deaths, especially among our diverse communities,” said Michael McKee, ICHS director of health services and community partnerships. “This is an avoidable tragedy and ICHS’ community advocates are working to reverse the tide as we improve access to information, screenings and care.”

ICHS health advocacy manager Rana Amini accepted the community grant on behalf of ICHS at the 2017 Komen Puget Sound Impact Celebration on May 11. ICHS’ Women’s Preventive Health Services and community advocacy programs have received funding from Komen’s Puget Sound chapter to support breast health education and outreach for more than a decade. ICHS’ Breast Health Outreach, Prevention, and Education (B-HOPE) project improves breast health education and offers early detection services to low-income, limited-English proficient members of King County’s Pacific Islander, Latina, Somali, and Asian Indian communities and other communities of need.

In 2016, ICHS staff reached more than 3,900 women with information about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer via nearly 50 community events and health fairs, and in collaboration with community-based organizations throughout King County. Since 2008, ICHS has had more than 29,000 outreach contacts with women regarding breast health education.

Among the ways ICHS partners with Komen to address breast health is through annual support of its “Race for the Cure.” On June 4, an ICHS fundraising team will join the race at the Seattle Center.

According to Susan G. Komen’s 2015 community profile report, Pacific Islander women have the area’s lowest five-year breast cancer survival rate, with 18% failing to survive for five years after a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. According to 2015 data from the Washington Department of Health, black women also have a poor overall survival rate, with over 11% failing to survive for five years.

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

Immunize Washington honors ICHS clinics

International Community Health Service’s (ICHS) young patients can rely on getting a boost on lifelong wellness with a health care team that’s committed to keeping them up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. Recently, these efforts were honored by the Washington State Department of Health.

ICHS’ medical clinics in Chinatown-International District, Holly Park and Bellevue were recently honored as 2017 Immunize Washington Gold, Silver and Bronze providers for outstanding success ensuring toddler and teen patients received their recommended vaccines.

ICHS chief medical officer, Anna Kaminski, credited a proactive, team approach for the clinics’ success.

“ICHS’ focus on quality preventive care includes maximizing every opportunity to reach and screen every young patient to make sure they are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Kaminski. “ICHS works strongly as a team to ensure that our vaccine efforts are proactive and communication with parents is clear and helpful.”

The CDC recommends vaccinating children and teens to lower the risk of childhood disease, as well as to reduce the spread of disease among people who are not vaccinated.

As Gold providers, the ICHS Holly Park and Chinatown-International District medical clinics respectively immunized 84% of toddlers and 92% of teens, and 88% of toddlers and 89% of teens. This is the third consecutive year both clinics have been awarded Gold status, which is given to providers with a minimum 80% success rate ensuring up-to-date patient immunization.

The ICHS Bellevue Clinic was recognized as a Silver provider for immunizing 76% of toddlers and as a Bronze provider for its immunization of teens.

The Immunize WA provider recognition program is overseen by the Washington Health Plan Partnership, which is coordinated by the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Health Care Authority. The program recognizes clinics vaccinating 70% or more of their toddler and/or teen patients with recommended vaccines.

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.