Only you can save our nation’s health centers

Thank you to International Community Health Services staff, patients and friends for the emails, calls and social media posts that put pressure on Congress to extend federal funding supporting health centers before Sept. 30. Although our Congressional leaders delivered a huge disappointment by failing to authorize funding before the deadline, your voices and stories are making a difference.

For the moment, we have a reprieve. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the agency that administers our funds, has developed a plan to keep the grant funding steady through the end of December. This gives all health centers breathing room until Congress passes our bill.

Until then, we must continue to advocate. Congressional action is crucial to avoid actual cuts happening in 2018.

There has never been a more urgent need for all ICHS staff, patients and friends to help ensure the health of our future and of those we serve. If you have not already, please sign up today to become a health center advocate at: http://www.hcadvocacy.org.

Thank you!

See facts about the health center funding cliff from the National Association of Community Health Centers here

What’s at stake? A video from ICHS’ Advanced Resident Nurse Practitioners advocates for those we serve here.

Health Center Funding Cliff Q&A

Q: What is a Federally Qualified Health Center?

International Community Health Center (ICHS) is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), which means that it receives federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration known as the 330 grant. ICHS’ service to the medically underserved, regardless of ability to pay, and establishment of a community board of directors are connected to federal requirements governing all FQHCs.

 Q: What is the funding cliff?

In 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, a trust fund was established guaranteeing five years of federal funding for community health centers. Congress voted to extend the fund at $7.2 billion in 2015 by two years, temporarily averting a mandatory funding “cliff.” The cliff is approaching again on Sept. 30. Congress must vote to approve the funding or health centers risk a 70% cut nationwide.

Ending the 330 grant curtails our greatest value proposition, harms our most vulnerable patients and threatens our sustainability. As ICHS provides health services to underserved communities we help address a national need for high quality and affordable care.

Q: Why does 330 funding matter?

  • ICHS and community health centers, as part of our nation’s health safety net, serve about 27 million patients a year, at a cost of less than $1,000 per patient per year.
  • ICHS successfully reaches and serves many of the neediest and most vulnerable:
    • 82% people of color (23,529)
    • 55% need language interpretation services (15,707)
    • 74% at or below 200% FPL (21,169)
    • 59% of patients on Medicaid (16,963)
    • 18% are 65+ (5,186)

Q: Who loses if funding ends?

The short answer – all of us lose if 330 federal funding is cut. The loss of the federal health center grant undermines the health of our communities’ most vulnerable members and weakens ICHS’ ability to deliver on our mission. ICHS could lose nearly $1.8 million, which means approximately 1,227 of our neediest patients could lose access to care.

Q: Why does my advocacy matter in Washington state?

We are fortunate to be in a state that believes in taking care of its low income, uninsured and under-insured residents. But ours represents one issue in a sea of many. Our voice and support provide ammunition to our Congress members as they take our battle to the front lines in Washington, D.C, as well as reminds them that we hold them accountable for their actions.

 Q: What can I do?

ICHS asks its partners, patients and staff to sign up as health center advocates at: http://www.hcadvocacy.org. We ask everyone to help us remind our Congress members why it is important for them to approve a five-year reauthorization of the federal 330 health center grant.

Thank you!

The health, livelihood and wellbeing of countless patients and ICHS staff members, and their families, are at stake. Without federal 330 funding, it will be challenging for ICHS to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its communities, as well as to maintain its operational solvency. Approval will enable ICHS and health centers nationwide ensure stability and sustainability into the future.

Federal government awards ICHS $224,765 for quality

International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced it is among community health centers nationally selected for federal awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This year, Quality Improvement Awards worth nearly $105 million were given to 1,333 health centers nationwide to help invest in improvement efforts. HRSA-funded health centers provide affordable, accessible primary health care for approximately one in 12 U.S. residents, including one in three people living in poverty.

ICHS’ exceptional performance results and standards in seven categories out of eight led to an award of $224,765. ICHS will use the funds to further improve its quality of care.

“ICHS is one of only two health centers in the state to be named a National Quality Leader among health centers nationwide. Being a National Quality Leader means we exceeded national quality benchmarks, including Healthy People 2020 goals, for chronic disease management, preventive care, and perinatal and prenatal care,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “In addition, ICHS was named a Health Center Quality Leader for achieving the best overall clinical performance among all health centers.”

ICHS also received dollar awards for the use of electronic reporting for all clinical quality measures; demonstrating notable improvement in one or more clinical quality measures between 2014 and 2015; increasing the number of patients served and the number of patients receiving comprehensive services between 2014 and 2015; being a recognized Patient Centered Medical Home; and meeting or exceeding, or making marked advances in moving each race/ethnic group towards the Healthy People 2020 goals.

The announcement follows ICHS’ recent re-accreditation through September 2020 from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) after an intensive on-site clinical survey focused on delivery of clinical care and administration. All seven ICHS sites were accredited as an ambulatory care site, a medical home and a dental home. AAAHC accreditation requires strict credentialing and privileging practices, peer review and education to continuously improve care and services and ongoing self-evaluation, among other requirements.

For a list of FY 2017 Quality Improvement Awards recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/qualityimprovement/index.html.

ICHS debuts video advocating for health centers


“Healthcare Now: Hear Our Voices!” is a video project created by ICHS’ Advanced Resident Nurse Practitioner program residents together with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service SE Asian Young Men’s Group. ICHS patients, providers and staff provide first-hand testimony and experiences that illustrate the vital importance of Medicaid and continued funding for community health centers.

ICHS proudly debuted the video on Aug 16, at the “Building Health Equity Together” partnership appreciation event in celebration of National Health Center Week. Read about its creation in the International Examiner

It’s a wrap! National Health Center Week comes to a close

International Community Health Services’ (ICHS) successfully wrapped up a week-long celebration of 2017 National Health Center Week from Aug. 13 to 19. Thanks to all who joined us as we strengthened relationships with community partners, engaged with our elected officials and showed appreciation for the people and communities that support our vital work.

Among the highlights:


 

 

 

 

 

Visits from elected lawmakers including King County Executive Dow Constantine amd Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, and a letter of support from Congressman Adam Smith.

Activism behind affordable health care with the “People’s Proclamation for Health Care for All,” launch of a new video advocating for health centers at a partnership appreciation event and publication of ICHS patient stories.

Energy from the community through fun games and giveaways in our clinics, and activities like our Children’s Healthy Eating event in the International District and celebration at the Bellevue Crossroads Mall.

Thank you for helping us draw attention to the value of the nation’s health centers and those we serve during 2017 National Health Center Week, including a thank you to our event sponsors.

Stand up for health care as a human right, sign the “People’s Proclamation”

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is providing community members with an opportunity to show support of health care as a human right by signing the “People’s Proclamation for Health Care for All,” during National Health Center Week, from Aug. 13 to 19. The proclamation announces the voice of the people on this vital matter to lawmakers.

The Senate’s recent failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act was supported by the collective effect of those who told stories, wrote, emailed, called and acted in accordance with their conscience and a belief in the right of all people to affordable, high quality health care.

ICHS invites everyone to continue the momentum during National Health Center Week, a nationwide celebration of the value community health centers bring to communities across the country. While ICHS serves many of our community’s most marginalized and vulnerable – immigrants, refugees, the elderly, the young, those who are low income, on Medicaid, uninsured or underinsured – much progress still needs to occur before all people in the United States have access to high quality preventative care regardless of health, housing or ability to pay.

Show support of health care as a human right. Look for the “People’s Proclamation for Health Care for All” at ICHS clinics and community events during National Health Center Week.

ICHS PEOPLE’S PROCLAMATION for HEALTH CARE FOR ALL

WE BELIEVE all individuals and families deserve quality, affordable health care, regardless of their nation of birth, culture, language, religion, age, income, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or where they live. All people in the United States deserve the security of health information privacy, to be cared for with dignity and respect, and to be assured medical services as a human right. WE SUPPORT the vital role of community health centers in safeguarding healthy people, strong families and vibrant communities. By signing, I demonstrate my support for this proclamation during 2017 National Health Center Week, in the year two thousand seventeen.

Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib on Aug. 18 (left photo) and King County Executive Dow Constantine (right photo) on Aug. 14 are among those that signed the proclamation in support of health care for all during 2017 National Health Center Week.

 

 

Get the facts during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

What is something everyone deals with but (hardly) anyone talks about?

Anxiety, depression and other mental illness silently affects many. Did you know that mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States and the second leading cause of death among American youth ages 15-24?

Rarely do we ask a friend or coworker, “How are you doing with your depression?” though we wouldn’t pause when asking “How is your broken ankle healing?” The existence and continuation of stigma compounds existing challenges hindering access to mental health care — particularly within immigrant and refugee communities.

This July, ICHS recognizes Minority Mental Health Month. In doing so, we address the increased anxiety and fear rippling through our communities. Whether a result of changing national politics, local pressures or the isolation that comes naturally whenever someone moves to a new place and is among a new culture, learning how to better handle periods of stress with resilience is always relevant.

Throughout the month, we will be posting a series of Myths/Facts surrounding mental health in order to shed some light on key issues.

You can help our communities become stigma free by recognizing the importance of mental health and the weight of concerns that matter to each of us. Learn more here.

Treatment of opioid addiction in King County expands with ICHS’ new suboxone program

The launch of a Suboxone treatment program at International Community Health Center (ICHS) expands local capacity to treat opioid addiction and help address the rampant abuse of heroin and prescription pain medication in King County.

ICHS medical providers and pharmacies add to a limited number in the area that are currently qualified to prescribe Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication that treats opioid dependence. Patients take Suboxone home, like any other prescription medication. Suboxone’s chemical composition helps avoid painful withdrawal.

“Opioid addiction needs to be treated and viewed the same as other medical conditions,” said Randon Aea, ICHS behavioral health manager. “For example, diabetes can be managed with support, behavior change and medication. Suboxone is proven to be safe and effective in helping people address the disease of addiction in a similarly successful fashion.”

Aea said a medical assessment, drug screening and education about the program are required for all participants, each of whom is also encouraged to seek substance abuse treatment and counseling. Patients initially see their ICHS medical provider once per week to ensure they are taking the appropriate amount of Suboxone. Once at the right dose, they may require less frequent visits.

“The prescription of Suboxone is just one step, albeit an important one,” said Aea. “Once the mind and body are stable, and free of pain and dependence to opiates, a person is better prepared to address the circumstances that may have led to their dependency.”

King County has made confronting opioid addiction a priority, announcing in January 2017 that it is moving forward on recommendations presented by a task force of experts that include prevention, increasing access to treatment on demand and reducing the number of fatal overdoses. In 2016, 220 people in King County died from opioid overdose. According to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, the percentage of King County drug seizures testing positive for heroin has increased six-fold from 2008 to 2015.

Learn more about ICHS’ Suboxone Treatment Program

ICHS’ Suboxone Treatment Program is available at its Holly Park, Chinatown-International District and Shoreline clinic locations and pharmacies, and will soon be available at ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic. Most insurance companies, including Medicaid, cover Suboxone treatment. ICHS’ commitment to health care for all, regardless of ability to pay, includes a sliding scale fee for those without insurance.

More information can be found at the ICHS website or by calling ICHS at: 206-788-3500.

 

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.