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

ICHS will honor Alan Sugiyama at Lunar New Year 5K on Feb 26

Alan Sugiyama and Teresita Batayola at the inaugural Lunar New Year 5K in Bellevue
Alan Sugiyama and ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola at the inaugural Lunar New Year 5K in Bellevue in 2016

Alan Sugiyama, a long-time Asian American community leader who passed away on January 2 after a courageous two-year public battle with cancer, will be honored at the second annual Lunar New Year 5K on Sunday, February 26 in Shoreline.

The event is sponsored by International Community Health Services (ICHS), which provided affordable medical and dental care to over 28,300 patients in more than 50 different languages last year. Proceeds from the event will go toward supporting uncompensated care.

“We were deeply saddened by Al’s death, but we know that his compassionate spirit will be with us on the day of our event,” ICHS Foundation Director Ron Chew said. “For participants who want to honor Al, we’ll be handing out Superman capes emblazoned with Al’s name inside the insignia.”

In 2016, ICHS organized the first-ever Lunar New Year 5k at the Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue to bring attention to its new Bellevue medical-dental clinic. The sold-out event attracted over 300 runners and walkers, raising over $21,000 to support uncompensated patient care. This year’s 5K will be on the Shoreline Interurban Trail and will start several blocks from the ICHS Shoreline clinic, which opened in September 2014.

Despite undergoing aggressive treatment for cancer of the pancreas and esophagus, Sugiyama participated in last year’s 5K, gathering his friends to join him. He even managed to outpace several of them. The Seattle Channel filmed Sugiyama at the event, producing a short piece on his life for CityStream, which aired in August.

At the time of his death, Sugiyama had already begun gathering an even wider circle of friends to join him at the second annual Lunar New Year 5K. Sugiyama was a fierce champion of affirmative action and increased funding support for communities of color. He is perhaps best known for the 30 years he spent as founder and director of the Center for Career Alternatives, a multi-ethnic job training program serving low-income residents in King and Snohomish Counties. He was the first Asian American to serve on the Seattle School Board.

The mile markers on the 5K course will bear an image of Sugiyama as Superman. That image and the insignia on the cape were designed by Eugene Tagawa, Sugiyama’s brother-in-law.

The Lunar New Year is traditionally the most significant holiday for many Asian Pacific Islanders, marking the return of Spring and a special time for families to offer wishes for health and prosperity in the coming year. The Year of the Rooster begins on January 28, 2017.

Registration for the Lunar New Year 5K is available online. Registration is $30. A free commemorative t-shirt will be included along with the registration fee. The event will be free to children under 13 and those over the age of 70. Seniors between the ages of 60 and 69 will receive a $5 discount.

The event is open to walkers and runners. Strollers and leashed pets are permitted. The race starts at 9:30 a.m. The start of the 5K will be launched with a colorful lion dance performance. The event features chip-timing by BuDu Racing, awards in different age categories and for best costumes, raffle prizes and post-race food and beverages.

For information about the event or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Christine Loredo at 206-788-3672 or christinel@ichs.com. For more information, visit www.ichs.com/5k.

Register for the ICHS Lunar New Year 5K

ICHS staff prepares for open enrollment season

ipa-team-gets-ready-for-open-enrollment
From left: Bang-Tam Hoang, Kathy Bohn, Sharissa Tjok and Sam Lam

ICHS Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator Sharissa Tjok is bracing herself for November 1st. The date marks the first day of the open enrollment period that will last until January 31, 2017. During that time, her team and other ICHS staff members will be working diligently to help individuals and families sign up for insurance coverage through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

This is the fourth year ICHS will partner with the state to help enroll patients and clients for various health care plans available through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, also known as “the marketplace.” Since the launch of Obamacare and the state exchange, over 1.7 million people have signed up for health care coverage in Washington State.

That number includes Rachel, a client who initially met with ICHS three years ago. At the time, she was paying over $1,000 each month for coverage for herself, her husband and two children. ICHS helped her enroll in state-subsidized coverage through Washington Apple Health. When her son had a serious medical emergency a couple of years ago, the total cost of his care was covered by their insurance.

“It has changed our lives,” she said.

During the open enrollment period, Washington residents can enroll in a qualified health plan for coverage beginning in 2017. Washington residents who qualify for subsidized coverage through Apple Health can enroll at any time, however. For residents who already have coverage through the exchange, it is recommended that they verify the cost of their 2017 premiums at this time and consider switching to a different plan if they find one that better suits their needs.

To meet the high demand for enrollment assistance, ICHS’s certified navigators will be available for walk-in appointments on several Saturdays throughout the open enrollment period and for scheduled appointments Mondays through Fridays. Anyone interested in setting up an appointment, can call a nearby ICHS clinic. A typical appointment is one hour.

One of the notable changes for 2017 is that people signing up for a non-Apple Health medical plan will be able to add dental coverage.

“This is a great improvement for patients who were not able to get dental insurance before,” said Tjok. “It is a step in the right direction.

Visit the state exchange website at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Schedule an appointment with a ICHS certified navigator by contacting the clinic nearest you.

New community facility will allow frail seniors to “age in place”

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PACE program coordinator Ian Munar discusses the site for the future program with ICHS Foundation Director Ron Chew. The PACE site will serve frail “nursing home eligible” seniors from who wish to age in their own homes.

 

As we get older, we search for ways to retain our independence, quality of life and connections to community. This grows increasingly difficult as we begin to experience declines in health and mobility.

Last year, ICHS and Kin On Community Health Care formed a partnership to address this concern.

Discussions between the two groups have yielded a bold blueprint to build a 20,000-square-foot care facility in Seattle to serve frail seniors who are “nursing home eligible,” but want to stay in their homes and “age in place.” Each organization has pledged $3 million to make this endeavor a reality.

“We want to keep seniors who need chronic care active in the community and living in their homes as long as possible because that’s the key to maintaining their health,” explained Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO.

ICHS serves over 4,800 elderly patients aged 65 and older per year.

Sam Wan, Kin On CEO, said the partnership was a natural fit because of the two organizations’ “successful track record for serving our elderly population” and the rapidly growing number of Asians in King County over the age of 60. “Their needs for services are compounded by language, cultural and access barriers,” he said.

Until recently, there were few choices for those who wanted to “age in place.” Institutionalization often became the inevitable next step when physical fragility and chronic care needs became too great for families to cope with. The Kin On Chinese Nursing Home has offered culturally sensitive care since 1987. The Seattle Keiro Nursing Home, initially targeted toward first generation Japanese Americans, has been in operation since 1976.

These nursing homes—now prominent anchors in the local health care sector—continue to provide quality care for Asian Pacific Islander seniors. But between the two organizations, there are only 250 beds: 100 at Kin On and 150 at Seattle Keiro.

In recent years, attitudes have shifted, especially among aging baby boomers. Entering a nursing home is now viewed by many as a last resort. With the emergence of “silver industries”—including senior concierge services and home health care agencies—today’s seniors have many more options.

Emerging into this changed paradigm for healthy aging is a little-known federal program called PACE, the acronym for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, first pioneered in San Francisco Chinatown over four decades ago. Today, there are 228 PACE centers in 31 states.

The program, supported by Medicare and Medicaid, provides a range of services, including primary medical, dental, behavioral health, and specialty care, personal care, recreation, nutrition counseling, meals and transportation—all with the goal of helping frail seniors safely in their homes or communities as long as possible.

According to a 2015 feasibility study conducted by a national consulting firm, there are 1,338 potential APIs eligible to enroll in PACE in Seattle and King County. The feasibility study was supported by grants from the City of Seattle and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

“Clearly, the market is there for a PACE facility serving our community,” Batayola said.

The new facility that Batayola and Wan are planning to develop would be the second PACE program in Washington State. The first is Providence ElderPlace, founded in Seattle in 1995. The new PACE facility is tentatively planned to be built on the vacant north parking lot of the old Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill. The new PACE program would be tailored to the cultural needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

An earlier search for an affordable long-term site to establish the PACE program in the Chinatown-International District turned out to be fruitless, given the hot real estate market.

“We hope to be operational some time in 2017,” said Ian Munar, PACE program coordinator. “The initial plan is to start off with 10 participants the first month and then ramp up with seven participants monthly. The program goal is to have 220 participants by the end of the third year of operation.”

Munar pointed out that ICHS and Kin On have created a new non-profit organization—Aging in PACE Washington—to administer the program. The cost of building the new facility is approximately $12 million. Aging in PACE will conduce a capital campaign to raise both public and private dollars for construction.

One enthusiastic booster of the new PACE facility is Sue Mar, a lifelong Seattleite. She and her family found themselves caring for an elderly unmarried aunt who had no children. The aunt, living alone in a condo, began showing signs of dementia at age 76 and her symptoms got progressively worse. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Mar’s aunt lived in her condo until age 83 with support from a team of caregivers, medical providers, and her family. She passed away at the age of 90 in 2014.

“As people are getting older and living longer, it’s the little things that start adding up,” Mar said. “Their short term memory starts to go. They can’t remember things and become confused. They forget to eat and take their medications. Without medical professionals in the home, it is hard to properly diagnose the early signs of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s or dementia. This puts the older person in a dangerous living situation and places enormous stress on family members trying to provide daily support so that person can ‘age in place.’”

Mar said she retired early from her job with Seattle City Light so she could help both her aunt and her mother, who had early stage dementia.

“With my aunt, it took way too long to get a proper diagnosis. Things came to a head when she was found wandering in front of her condo in her PJs and walking barefoot. She didn’t know where she was. That’s when we went back to the doctor and said, ‘You have to do something.’ We were finally able to get a social worker into the home to see what was going on.”

Batayola said PACE program can provide much needed support to folks like Sue Mar by keeping aging seniors connected.

“The wonderful thing about the PACE program is that even if the client’s children and grandchildren are occupied during the day, he or she has the means to go to a place where there are interdisciplinary services to maintain their social, mental and physical well-being,” Batayola said. “Each of these senior participants gets a unique plan, including some home services if needed.”

Registration officially opens for ICHS 2017 Lunar New Year 5K

2017 LNY website banner - registration2Registration is officially open for the 2017 ICHS Lunar New Year 5K. The annual event will be on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Shoreline Interurban Trail.

REGISTER TODAY

Earlier this year, ICHS organized the first-ever Lunar New Year 5K at the Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue to bring attention to its new Bellevue medical-dental clinic. The sold-out event attracted over 300 runners and walkers, raising over $21,000 to support uncompensated patient care.

The Lunar New Year is traditionally the most significant holiday for many Asian Pacific Islanders, marking the return of Spring and a special time for families to offer wishes for health and prosperity in the coming year. The Year of the Rooster begins on January 28, 2017.

“We’re encouraging folks to integrate this healthy, family-friendly winter activity into their celebration of the New Year,” ICHS Foundation Director Ron Chew said.

The start of the 5K will be launched with a colorful lion dance performance. The event includes chip-timing, awards in different age categories and for best costumes, raffle prizes and post-race food and beverages.

Super early bird registration before November 1 is $20. A free commemorative t-shirt will be included along with the registration fee. The event will be free to children under 13 and those over the age of 70. Seniors between the ages of 60 and 69 will receive a $5 discount.

To register, visit www.ichs.com/5k. For information about the event or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Chris Potter at 206-788-3694 or christinajp@ichs.com.

ICHS remembers founding visionary and lifelong friend “Uncle Bob” Santos

“Uncle Bob” Santos, long-time Seattle social justice champion and one of the founders of International Community Health Services (ICHS), passed away on Saturday, August 27 at the age of 82.

In his role as executive director of the International District Improvement Association (Inter*Im) during the 1970s, Santos spearheaded efforts to preserve the Chinatown-International District in the wake of the construction of the giant Kingdome nearby. His efforts—over the next several decades—resulted in the restoration of old hotels, construction of new low-income housing and creation of bilingual social services for the low-income immigrants in the neighborhood. His successful advocacy gave birth to ICHS, the city-chartered Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Danny Woo Community Garden, Merchants Parking Association and a host of programs for immigrants, low-income residents and small businesses.

Dr. Alan Chun, “Uncle Bob” Santos and former ICHS Executive Director Dorothy Wong at a ribbon cutting ceremony for ICHS.

In the 1990s, Santos successfully negotiated for the transfer of surplus Metro property at Eighth Avenue and South Dearborn Street to SCIDpda to develop into the $23 million International District Village Square, which currently houses the ICHS flagship clinic.

In 1975, Santos helped establish the first home for the ICHS clinic in a tiny one-room storefront at 416 Maynard Avenue South, across the street from Hing Hay Park. ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola said Santos would often reminisce and laugh with her about the clinic’s humble origins. The challenge, according to Batayola, was “trying to convince the elderly Filipino and Chinese men living in squalid conditions that our clinic was their clinic, with no hidden agendas other than helping them get well.

“Bob was not alone in his passion for protecting and improving Chinatown/ID. But he was singular in inspiring and organizing so many of us, especially students and the youth. Over the years, I was always drawn to his sense of justice and passion for our community.”

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“Uncle Bob” aka “Patient Number 47” at the 2006 ICHS Bloom Gala

Santos was affectionately known to ICHS staff and medical providers as “Patient Number 47.” ICHS currently serves over 25,500 patients at its seven clinic locations throughout Seattle, Bellevue and Shoreline.

Susie Chin, hired in 1975 as the first full-time employee at ICHS, said Uncle Bob had encouraged her to apply for the job. Chin worked as front desk coordinator. At the time, she said, the elderly low-income Filipinos and Chinese residents traveled from Chinatown all the way to Pioneer Square or Beacon Hill to seek badly needed health care. “It was really hard for them because many of them were walking with canes,” she said. “Uncle Bob knew that there was a great need for the clinic. He knew first-hand because his dad lived in Chinatown, was blind and Uncle Bob had to take him around everywhere. Everything Uncle Bob did was from the heart.”

Cris Krisologo-Elliott, ICHS board member for 12 years, said Santos was an outstanding leader “who loved his community, but really loved his family, which has grown from 6 children to a large number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

She said she has fond memories of the time when Uncle Bob was living in a small apartment in the International District and spending much of his time schmoozing and performing karaoke at the Bush Garden with “many of his friends, protégés, community leaders and politicians.”

“It was like the Bush Garden was his living room and reception space, always surrounded as he sang ‘New York, New York’ or ‘Lady in Red,’” Krisologo-Elliott said. “Little did I know that years after hanging out at the Bush Garden, his son, John, and my daughter, Meagan, would meet and marry. So thus we became like relatives, sharing grandchildren.”

Batayola added, “Over the years, Uncle Bob graced ICHS’ Bloom Gala, dancing center stage with choreographed back-up dancers or limping slowly on stage with a walker in a patient gown, only to dramatically toss the walker and bust some moves.”

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ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola and “Uncle Bob” Santos (center) strike a pose with the Massive Monkees at the 2010 ICHS Bloom Gala.

Save the Date for the 2017 Bloom Gala

2017 Bloom Gala ICHS website feature slider image

Mark your calendars for the 2017 Bloom Gala! Each year, hundreds of ICHS supporters come together for this special event to raise funds for uncompensated patient care at the ICHS clinics.

Missed the 2016 Bloom Gala? You can check out the photos on our Facebook page and watch the video presentation on our YouTube channel.

Next year’s event will be on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in downtown Seattle. More information is coming soon on sponsorships, tickets and volunteer opportunities.

In the meantime, visit www.ichs.com/bloom or email foundation@ichs.com for more information.