ICHS pilots at-home monitoring tools to improve virtual care of high-risk patients

As one of 20 national pilot sites, ICHS patients will screen and manage chronic conditions from home for better preventive health care and virtual visits. The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has selected International Community Health Services (ICHS) as one of 20 health centers in 16 states to participate in “Leading Change: Transforming At-Home Care,” a cutting-edge pilot project offering tools for self-care and remote monitoring for better patient health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted ICHS to reimagine how to manage preventive and virtual care for patients with chronic diseases when regular in-person visits are difficult or no longer feasible. Remote patient monitoring can provide providers with important information and context that might otherwise be missed during a virtual visit.

“ICHS is honored to be chosen for this timely initiative,” said Dr. Beth Weitensteiner, assistant medical director of the ICHS Holly Park Clinic,  who will drive ICHS’s participation in the project. “It’s important we continue to see patients with chronic conditions throughout the pandemic. This strategy provides them with tools and information they can use to care for themselves at home with our help. Further empowering patients allows us to better identify new symptoms and potential emergencies, which could be lifesaving.”

Twenty high-risk patients from the ICHS Holly Park Clinic will be given a patient home care kit that includes materials for colorectal cancer screening, a home blood-sugar monitor for diabetes, a blood pressure monitor, a thermometer and scale. They will also receive educational materials and regular virtual visits from ICHS staff and providers.

“This pandemic has shown us how community health center partners can step-up to transform our local healthcare systems and lead us into the future with new blended care delivery models that include at-home self-care integrated with virtual care,” NACHC’s Quality Center said in a written statement. “These steps have the potential to critically improve the way preventive care and chronic diseases are managed during and beyond this pandemic.”

The pilot is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and is designed to capture data through June 2021. Among the outcomes, ICHS will provide lessons and best practices that will be shared with health centers nationally.

With many U.S. adults delaying preventive care and with six in 10 having at least one chronic condition including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, regular health management is a matter of life and death with added COVID-19 risks. A large population of high-risk patients who are more likely to suffer from a disproportionate array of chronic conditions are cared for by community health centers like ICHS.

“ICHS serves a patient population that, because of language or culture, has historically faced difficulty accessing quality, affordable health care,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “While the pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of telehealth and its widespread use, it has also highlighted disparities exacerbated by a digital divide. In participating in this pilot project, ICHS is serving on the forefront of developing innovative practices to bridge the accessibility gap for those who may be otherwise underserved.”

ICHS Statement on Anti-Asian Hate

On March 25, 2021, International Community Health Services (ICHS) released the following statement on Anti-Asian Racism. ICHS denounces the increased violence targeting Asians and Asian Americans and recognize that the killings on March 16 in Atlanta of six Asian American women working to support their families or themselves are the most extreme example of anti-Asian hate, a continuation and expansion of racist actions against Black, Native and Latinx peoples. Our legacy obliges us to keep fighting for social justice, challenging racism and championing health equity.

Stop Asian Hate

Excerpt from the statement:

“International Community Health Services (ICHS) condemns racism and discrimination in all forms upon all marginalized communities. ICHS particularly denounces the increased violence targeting Asians and Asian Americans.”

“Racism is a public health crisis. Improving health outcomes requires addressing structural barriers and circumstances that harm our patients and communities. We must continue to work collectively for human and civil rights, examine our own racial biases and privileges, and extend our support to members of our community who no longer feel safe.  As a healthcare organization, we must continue to live, defend, and grow our vision and mission.”

ICHS Begins Administering Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

Vy Ha, ICHS Vaccine Recipient
Vy Ha gets a one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the International Community Health Services Shoreline Clinic on Tuesday.

Vy Ha has been looking forward to getting back to a sense of normalcy like seeing her family and being back in the office.

On March 9, Ha arrived for her COVID-19 vaccine appointment at International Community Health Services (ICHS) Shoreline Clinic. It was ICHS’s first day administering the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

The arrival of J&J vaccine means more vaccine supply. Its features have also been big news for health professionals, having to require only one-dose and having easier storage requirements. Clinical data on the J&J vaccine has brought questions as people have tried to compare vaccines to decide which is ‘best’ for them.

Ha said she felt ‘neutral’ about which vaccine she received. After all, this was her opportunity to protect her family and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. “This is based on science,” says Ha, “So, I personally feel confident about it. I do a yearly flu shot every year, so I don’t have reservations.”

The third option

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in WA has been expanding. As of March 9, over two million vaccine doses have been delivered in WA and we are now exceeding the DOH goal of 45,000 vaccinations a day. (DOH)

Last summer, it seemed that an effective COVID-19 vaccine would be years away. But now, after the combined efforts of health professionals and tens of thousands of volunteers, the U.S. now has three highly effective vaccines to stop the spread of the disease: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna.

The J&J vaccine is the most recent to be approved. The vaccine clinical trials were reviewed and approved by the Federal Drug Administration on February 27. Then the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup reviewed and authorized it on March 3. Of the 44,000 patients who joined the J&J vaccine trials, none of them were hospitalized from COVID-19.

The positive clinical results pleased Lakshmi Deepa Yerram, MD, ICHS medical director. “The J&J vaccine’s ability in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” Yerram said, “is comparable to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.” She described the third vaccine as adding more tools in the arsenal against fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions and cancellations

Paul Nguyen
Paul Nguyen, preparing a dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Paul Nguyen, ICHS Shoreline Clinic pharmacist supervisor, has been administering COVID-19 vaccines since January. He was the one administering vaccines on March 9 and spoke to patients who refused the J&J vaccine.

“One of the things that has come up,” shares Nguyen, “is patients’ hesitancy when it comes to efficacy rate compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.”

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to offer better protection against COVID-19 when just looking at the data collected during U.S. clinical trials. The Johnson & Johnson reached a 72% effectiveness compared to the roughly 95% effectiveness of the other two.

For some vaccine patients, these numbers infer that the J&J vaccine is inferior. Many had questions for Nguyen. Some patients cancelled their appointments.

However, those effectiveness numbers do not tell the whole story. All the vaccines were tested differently and used different goal posts to determine effectiveness, making comparisons nearly impossible, Nguyen explained. The vaccines were also tested at different times in the pandemic. “It’s kind of comparing apples to oranges,” Nguyen said.

All three vaccines are 100% effective in the way that matters most – preventing death, serious illness and hospitalization.

“I’ve been waiting for the J&J vaccine”


Kathleen Vasen ICHS vaccine recipient
Kathleen Vasen has been waiting for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Kathleen Vasen, a retired health worker, was pleased to finally be vaccinated. “I’ve been waiting for the J&J vaccine,” Vasen explained, “One because it’s a one-shot vaccine and two, because of the way that it’s manufactured is the same as what is done for flu shots and so forth of which I’ve never had an issue.”

With a new family member expected next month, Vasen said having the one-dose J&J vaccine means she will be protected in “just the right amount of time” to be there to “see and hold my new grandson.”

This one-shot vaccine is exciting for Yerram. However, she said that the best vaccine is the one that is available to you because all vaccines are extremely effective when it comes to preventing severe and fatal cases of COVID-19.

Health experts are concerned over the spread of new variants of COVID-19, being more infectious and potentially leading to another surge in cases. Getting “sufficient protection sooner” protects you and the people around you. “Please get the vaccine as soon as possible, and any brand that is available to you,” Yerram said.


To find out if you currently qualify to receive the vaccine, use the DOH PhaseFinder. It is available in multiple languages here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and how to make an appointment please visit: https://www.ichs.com/covid-19-vaccine-update/

2021 Health Insurance Open Enrollment

Now you can enroll, renew or change your health plan through Washington HealthplanFinder. There are more plans to chose from, including a new, affordable health plan option called Cascade Care. Take time to compare plans as you may qualify for a low-cost one.

Open Enrollment Calendar DateImportant Dates

Nov. 1 – Open enrollment begins

Dec. 15 – Last day to register for a health plan that begins Jan. 2021

Jan. 15 – Last day to register for a health plan that begins Feb. 2021

If you miss open enrollment, you cannot enroll in a health plan unless you have a special qualifying “life event”.

ICHS is here to help

ICHS provides free help to our patients and for anyone seeking to enroll or renew their health insurance. Schedule an appointment with one of our multilingual outreach and enrollment navigators. They can explain your health plan options and assist you with enrolling.

Our staff speak languages including: Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Toisanese), Korean, Russian, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese.

Call (206) 788-3700 to schedule an appointment. We are only accepting appointments by phone.

Learn more about ICHS insurance assistance.

PACE programs shift senior health care to the home during COVID-19

Seniors in the ICHS PACE program ‘age in place’ in their homes and neighborhood. Rick Wong photo.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit nursing home residents it has drawn attention to the benefits of the nation’s PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) programs, which allow frail seniors to “age in place” in their own home instead of a nursing home. Enrolled seniors are safer from infection because they are supported to thrive at home.

Janet joined PACE in August 2019 so she could continue living at her home in Seattle’s Greenwood area. She was delighted that her insurance covered the International Community Health Services (ICHS) PACE program and enjoyed the adult day services at ICHS Legacy House.

When COVID-19 began spreading in King County, “PACE made a series of quick and abrupt decisions,” said Dr. Kannie Chim, ICHS PACE medical director. After weeks of declining visits, on March 9, in the interest of patient safety, Legacy House closed group activities. “The team had to pivot to reaching people through other means.”

Staff made weekly phone calls to check on participants’ and share information. Knowing that many lacked safe transportation options, PACE staff began delivering food coordinated by PACE dietitians so participants could continue sheltering in place. The PACE team also increased home visits to ensure seniors received the care they needed to stay healthy.

“Doctors, physical therapists, nurses, almost everyone comes to your home to check on you,” said Janet. “I’ve had home safety checks and they are very careful.”

PACE staff also taught Janet how to connect to telehealth services. “Everyone in the program is motivated and responsive to patients,” she said. “I like it, especially during this difficult period.”


Healthy aging at home

PACE programs are individually designed for each participant and managed by a team. Care is interdisciplinary—a social needs analysis and investigation into individual health barriers are part of the program. Care is culturally competent, able to meet participant needs with respect to cultural traditions, language and preferences. The goal is to allow individuals to safely live in their community for as long as possible. When that is no longer feasible, PACE can coordinate transitions that keep the participant centered in his or her care.

“It’s team-based,” said Dr. Chim. “At PACE, we say ‘Let us take all of this and put it under one roof and take care of it. Let us help, we are going to coordinate this.’”

Mei and her husband live in the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) neighborhood of Seattle. Before the pandemic, PACE drivers would pick up Mei’s husband three times a week and take him to ICHS Legacy House for medical care, physical therapy and activities. The couple continue to live in their C-ID apartment while Mei’s husband receives the primary care he needs, staying connected to multiple services to help keep him healthy.

PACE team members include doctors, therapists, nutritionists, drivers, behavioral health specialists, social workers and administrative staff to coordinate an individualized care plan.

Many ICHS PACE participants take part in adult day services and social activities at ICHS Legacy House. They may also receive care within their own home that ranges from therapy and medical visits, to meal deliveries and home safety assessments.

To be eligible for PACE, participants must be 55 or older and in need of nursing home level of care as defined by Washington state.

Most participants “join the PACE program needing a little help,” explained Dr. Chim. “You are living at home and can get around and still do your daily activities, but you are just getting by. We want to help participants not only survive, but thrive.”


Setting the PACE ahead

During the pandemic, long-term care facilities have been especially vulnerable to outbreaks of COVID-19. Seniors face compounding challenges, including heightened risk of infection, transportation barriers, limited access to telehealth and other difficulties.

“Offering well-coordinated, community-based health care, socialization and living support is a priority throughout this pandemic and in the future,” commented Teresita Batayola, ICHS President & CEO. “For us, PACE is the future.”

ICHS, in partnership with Kin On Health Care Center (Kin On), is taking a bold step to create a better future for elders. Established in 2015, the partnership, called Aging in PACE Washington (AiPACE), will pioneer the nation’s first aging-in-place program for the Asian Pacific Islander community. A $20 million capital campaign is underway to create a 25,000-square-foot PACE center on the north lot of Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill.

AiPACE’s facility will provide a home base for culturally-competent, in-language care for AAPI elders. It is also part of a collaborative development with affordable workforce housing by the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) and childcare center operated by El Centro de la Raza.

One-Year Anniversary Party
On Aug. 28, 2020, International Community Health Services (ICHS) staff celebrated the first anniversary of ICHS PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a state and federally funded program designed to help seniors “age in place” at home. Rick Wong photo.

Protect yourself with a flu shot

Getting your flu shot is more important now than ever. Call 206.788.3700

The Washington State Department of Health strongly recommends everyone get vaccinated to avoid serious illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is likely that both COVID-19 and the flu will be circulating at the same time. By getting the flu shot, you help keep our communities healthy because you are lowering the chance of exposure for the people around you, especially those who are unable to get the flu shot themselves.

Stop by one of our pharmacies

If you are between the ages of 19 and 64, come to the pharmacy during regular business hours at our International District, Holly Park and Shoreline clinics. Walk-ins accepted. Appointments are encouraged. Make an appointment by calling the pharmacy:

Holly Park: 206-788-3563
International District: 206-788-3708
Shoreline: 206-533-2723

SEE a primary care provider

Ask about getting a flu shot during your next visit or schedule a separate time to come in. New patients are always welcome.

We’re here to help make it safe and easy

No cost for kids and with most insurance

All children in Washington may receive flu vaccines, and other recommended vaccines, at no cost through age 18. Flu vaccine is a covered benefit provided at no cost every year through most insurance plans for adults over the age of 18, and is covered by Medicare part B.

Help if you’ve lost a job, or health insurance

We welcome all people, regardless of insurance status or income. If you do not have health insurance, we will help you determine if you qualify for a free or low cost plan, as well as your eligibility for our sliding fee discount and other free health programs and services. You will not be denied care if you are unable to pay.

Stay safe in our care

  • All patients and visitors are screened for symptoms and have their temperatures checked prior to entering our clinics.
  • Waiting time is cut down to minimize social contact. You will be moved quickly from check-in to exam room.
  • The number of guests is limited and our waiting rooms have been configured to ensure safe physical distancing.
  • All visitors are asked to wear a mask when they arrive. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided. Staff are masked at all times
  • Hand sanitizer is readily available throughout each clinic. Exam rooms are fully sanitized between visits. Common areas and high-touch spots are disinfected multiple times daily.

Feds award ICHS for care quality

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is among health centers nationwide to be recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with quality improvement awards totaling more than $117 million.

The awards recognize the highest performing health centers as well as those that have made significant quality improvements from the previous year.

ICHS received a grant award of nearly $160,000 and was recognized as a Health Center Quality Leader for achieving the best overall clinical performance among all health centers. HRSA has named ICHS a Health Center Quality Leader every year since 2014.

ICHS was also awarded as a Clinical Quality Improver for demonstrating at least 15% improvement for each quality measure from the previous year. ICHS’s use of technology to help patients access high quality care and its team-based approach were also recognized with awards in the Advancing Health Information Technology and Patient Centered Medical Home Recognition categories.

Federally qualified health centers provide primary care services for underserved communities through funds from the HRSA Health Center Program. They deliver care to about one in 11 people nationwide who are low-income, uninsured or face obstacles to getting health care, HRSA Administrator Tom Engles said in a statement. “These awards will support health centers as they continue to be a primary medical home for communities around the country,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers have been on the frontlines, providing more than 3 million tests, according to HHS. “These quality improvement awards support health centers across the country in delivering care to nearly 30 million people, providing a convenient source of quality care that has grown even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These awards help ensure that all patients who visit a HRSA-funded health center continue to receive the highest quality of care, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.”

A full list of award recipients can be found here.


ICHS lights up National Health Center Week

Lots to celebrate at an Aug. 10 staff appreciation event at the ICHS International District clinic.


International Community Health Services (ICHS) helped highlight the value of the nation’s health centers during National Health Center Week, an annual national celebration to raise public awareness and legislative support, held from Aug. 9 to 15.

Staff, patients and state lawmakers joined ICHS to observe this year’s theme, “Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future,” which honored frontline providers, staff and patients who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a series of virtual meetings with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA9), Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA8) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA1), ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola shared the innovative steps ICHS has taken to address the needs of the community in the face of extraordinary challenges. She underscored the urgent call for Congress to act to secure reauthorization of mandatory funding for community health centers by October.

“Our sustainability is being threatened as we bring great value,” said Batayola. “Community health centers are critical in ensuring access to health care and information, outreach and engagement. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but especially for people who have low incomes or have lost their jobs or health insurance.”

After King County emerged as an early epicenter of the health crisis in March, ICHS quickly responded with new models of care, including telehealth and in-home visits, prescription deliveries, drive-thru testing sites and testing targeted to specific populations. ICHS has also served as a strong voice in advocating against anti-Asian stigma and bias.

ICHS has struggled with PPE shortages and decreased demand for primary care and preventative services, as patients shelter at home and avoid in-person health visits out of fear. This has led to reduced revenue. An infusion of federal funding – both emergency and long-term – is critical if ICHS and the nation’s community health centers are to continue to meet need and demand.

“It’s a really important thing to have health care access for everyone,” said Beth Weitensteiner, assistant medical director at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic. Weitensteiner joined other ICHS staff members, patients and board members to express gratitude for ICHS and its promise of affordable health care in a series of YouTube videos celebrating National Health Center Week. “Clinics like ours are the clinics that are on the front line, making sure that everyone has affordable, good access to health care.”

An Aug. 10 panel discussion with Rep. Kim Schrier centered on keeping kids healthy during COVID-19 and the work of ICHS’s school-based health centers.
The ICHS leadership team showed its appreciation during an Aug. 12 virtual visit and discussion with Rep. Suzan DelBene.
On Aug. 12, Rep. Adam Smith joined ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola and other local health center leaders for a roundtable discussion of pandemic-related concerns.


National Health Center Week festivities also included staff appreciation lunches and patient appreciation events at ICHS’s full-service clinics in the International District, Holly Park, Bellevue and Shoreline. Check out highlights here on Flickr.

ICHS Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

On June 24, 2020, International Community Health Services (ICHS) released the following statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, outlining our 10 demands for police reform and our commitments to fighting systemic racism.

We are outraged and saddened by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks. Their deaths are endemic to the crisis of police brutality and structural racism in this country. We also remember and honor the lives of our Black neighbors and community members who were killed by police here in Washington: Charleena Lyles, Manuel Ellis, Che Taylor, Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens and many others.

As public health advocates and as a health center dedicated to serving our communities and promoting health equity for all, we are committed to challenging racism and the system that upholds it. We stand in solidarity with those calling for racial justice, police accountability and criminal justice reform. We stand in solidarity with our Black family members, colleagues, friends and communities to say enough is enough. Black Lives Matter.

ICHS reaffirms its birthright as an organization founded to assure access to quality health care for those who need it. We recommit ourselves to dismantling systemic racism that manifests as health inequities and police violence as well as anti-Blackness in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in which we are rooted.

“In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen nationwide protests demanding justice and the end of police killings of Black Americans. These protests have further illuminated the long standing systemic racism that exists in America. But we know that racism is deeply embedded. As a community health center, we see firsthand its impact on the health of our communities. As an organization dedicated to health equity, we commit to challenging racism in our police departments and working with our community partners on bold steps forward.”

– Teresita Batayola
ICHS President and CEO


Asqual Getanek, medical director and physician, ICHS International District Clinic

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the well documented health disparities that stem from systemic racism and the implicit and explicit biases in testing and delivery of care. As health care workers, we embrace justice as one of the four pillars of biomedical ethics – the others being autonomy, non-maleficence and beneficence. We all have a responsibility to look introspectively into our own implicit biases.”

– Dr. Asqual Getaneh
ICHS Chief Medical Officer