Sen. Patty Murray visits Highland Middle School Health Center

U.S. Senator Patty Murray visited the ICHS Highland Middle School Health Center on April 18, to learn how giving access to medical, dental and behavioral health services right on school campus is helping our Eastside community become stronger and thrive.

By making it easier for students to access needed health care and counseling services, ICHS is helping reduce health disparities for Bellevue families. The bottom line? Healthy students are better able to learn and succeed. The school-based health center, offered in partnership with Youth Eastside Services, ICHS and the Bellevue School District, with funding from Best Starts for Kids, was opened in fall of 2017. Read more here.

Senator Patty Murray, Highland MS, 2019

From left to right (back): Kendall Watanabe, ICHS health educator; Rosaly Rivero Gonzalez, ICHS clinic care coordinator; Steven Ono, Highland MS counselor; Judy Buckmaster, executive director of community development, Bellevue School District; Katie Klug, Highland MS principal; David Downing, director of operations, Youth Eastside Services; Christine Chew, Bellevue School Board president; Tess Sorbo, ICHS nurse practitioner. Left to right (front): WA State Senator Patty Murray; Sherryl Grey, ICHS senior health services manager; Sarah Burdell, behavioral health specialist, Youth Eastside Services.

ICHS expands breast cancer prevention with $105,000 Susan G. Komen Grant

B-HOPE project aims to improve survival rates for women facing barriers to breast health information and screenings

International Community Health Services (ICHS) was awarded a $105,000 community grant from Susan G. Komen Puget Sound that will expand women’s breast cancer prevention. The grant supports the ICHS Breast Health Outreach, Prevention, and Education (B-HOPE) project, which promotes early breast cancer detection among low income, minority, immigrant and refugee women in Seattle and King County.

“We are thrilled to see our extensive experience and impact within the community recognized with our largest Komen grant to date. It will allow us to move our B-HOPE project beyond education and outreach, to also include screening, diagnosis and follow up,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “ICHS’s Women’s Preventive Health Services and community advocacy programs have received funding from Komen’s Puget Sound chapter for more than a decade. Our long partnership is grounded in a mutual commitment to make screenings more accessible to all women because early detection saves lives.”

The B-HOPE project prioritizes outreach to the Pacific Islander, Latina, Asian Indian and East African communities, with a focus on women who have never or rarely had a breast health exam. Key activities will include providing breast health education at community events, offering interpretation and help signing up for health insurance, organizing community presentations and support groups, and providing free or low cost screenings at ICHS clinics and health fairs through a partnership with Swedish Mobile Mammography Services.

“This grant will allow us to reach women who have traditionally had difficulty accessing preventative care, including immigrants and refugees who may not have access to affordable screenings or treatment in their home countries,” said Rana Amini, ICHS health services manager, on behalf of ICHS at Komen’s 2019 Community Impact Celebration on April 18. “The inability to find providers who can speak their language can be a grave difficulty. Cultural barriers can keep women from accessing the care and support that they need. For example, some women may not feel comfortable discussing breast health with male providers. Others may associate medical treatment with pain or sickness. For these reasons, patient navigation and education are crucial to reducing barriers to breast cancer screenings for low-income women and those who speak limited English.”

In 2018, ICHS helped more than 5,000 women better understand the importance of early breast cancer detection through its activities at community events and health fairs. Since 2008, more than 24,000 women have received mammograms through ICHS, and more than 36,000 women have benefited from breast health outreach and education offered by B-HOPE staff. Among the ways ICHS partners with Komen is through its annual support of the “Race for the Cure,” now known as the “More than Pink” walk. On June 2, an ICHS fundraising team will join this year’s walk at Seward Park.

According to Susan G. Komen’s 2015 community profile report, area Pacific Islander women are most likely to be late in detecting breast cancer among all ethnic groups. Fifty-eight percent are not diagnosed until a late stage. Pacific Islander women also have the lowest five-year survival rate at 82%.

2019 Komen grant, health services

Aliya Haq receives National WIC Association Leadership Award

The National Women, Infants and Children Association (NWA) named Aliya Haq, International Community Health Services (ICHS) nutrition services supervisor, a recipient of the NWA Leadership Award. Haq was recognized for her exceptional service to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program participants and her effective advocacy. Haq has been particularly vocal against recent proposed changes to the “public charge” rule targeting immigrants who legally use government assistance programs.

“I am humbled and grateful,” said Haq, who was presented with the award at the National WIC Association Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Md., on April 10. “Good health rests on good nutrition and there is nothing more important than that. I appreciate the support I have received from ICHS, the state and the NWA.”

The NWA Leadership Award is the organization’s most prestigious award. It is given annually to honor the outstanding contributions of individuals or groups who have actively supported the WIC Program through their leadership, advocacy, management and delivery of services.

Haq has led the WIC Program at ICHS since 2009. She has been instrumental in efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and general nutrition, including successfully launching a WIC Program at the ICHS Shoreline Clinic in 2016. Haq serves as a strong local, state and national voice, helping educate policymakers and the public about the importance of good nutrition and support of continued access to safety net programs and services. In addition to “public charge,” she was active in promoting Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Ordinance, a sugary beverage tax to help control obesity.

“Aliya is an outstanding WIC ambassador who brings her whole heart to her work. She cares deeply about equity and cultural sensitivity in patient care and education,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “She constantly steps up to educate and inform on behalf of women, children and families – ranging from educating staff and the community about the nutritional aspects of Ramadhan, to responding when she saw WIC clients veering away from services from fears about ‘public charge.’”

Haq has more than 20 years of experience in the management and delivery of nutrition services, and in work to improve health outcomes for minority and immigrant populations, especially women and children. She is an expert and frequent speaker on the cultural influences on infant feeding and nutrition, serving as a co-investigator of NIH and RWJ-funded studies examining these topics. As the ICHS nutrition services supervisor, Haq heads WIC Programs in three ICHS clinic locations that offer nutrition counseling to over 4,000 patients annually. She also collaborates with the health center medical team to lead the delivery of culturally and linguistically appropriate nutrition counseling and therapy. Haq has a MS from University of Washington majoring in nutritional sciences. She is a certified dietitian with the State of Washington and a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Haq at the National WIC Association Leadership Conference on April 10, 2019.

Aliya Haq, WIC Leadership Award, April 10

Sam Wan and SCIDpda to be honored with Bamboo Award at ICHS Bloom Gala

International Community Health Services (ICHS) will honor Sam Wan, former CEO of Kin On Health Care Center, and the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), a longtime non-profit partner, with the Bamboo Award for Health at ICHS’s Bloom Gala on April 27.

Every year, over 400 of the ICHS’s closest supporters gather at the event to raise money to cover the costs of uncompensated care and to honor one individual and one organization with the Bamboo Award. Last year, ICHS provided over $1 million in charity care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services.

“The 2019 Bamboo Award honorees—Sam Wan and SCIDpda—exemplify the best in selfless support for the ICHS mission of providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health services to the most vulnerable members of our community,” said ICHS Foundation executive director Ron Chew.

Wan spent over three decades at the helm of Seattle’s Kin On Nursing Home, becoming its first executive director in 1987 after a spirited community campaign to establish a 63-bed facility in South Seattle. Earlier, he worked for the Seattle-King County Division on Aging for over 10 years. Under Wan’s steady leadership, Kin On expanded to providing other senior services, including wellness programs, assisted living and skilled-nursing care. It now has sites in the Chinatown-International District, Columbia City and Bellevue. Last year, Wan stepped down as CEO.

SCIDpda was created by the city of Seattle in 1975 to spearhead redevelopment of aging historic structures in the Chinatown-International District, including the Bush Hotel, which became the headquarters for many newly-formed non-profit service groups.

On March 1, ICHS officially took over operation of Legacy House, one of SCIDpda’s signature programs, located at International District Village Square. Legacy House is an assisted living facility providing 75 units of housing, adult day care and a congregate meal program.

Recently, ICHS and Kin On began a joint campaign to raise $20 million to construct a 25,000-square-foot senior care facility next to Pacific Hospital on Beacon Hill. SCIDpda is building 262 units of affordable housing on the same site.

The Bloom Gala will take place on April 27 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the 2019 Bloom Gala are available at For more information contact or call (206) 788-3672.

$20M capital campaign to create North Beacon Hill facility that redefines senior living

Heidi Wong, AiPACE campaign manager
Heidi Wong, AiPACE campaign manager

A $20 million capital campaign was announced today to create a 25,000-square-foot facility serving frail seniors over the age of 55. AiPACE, a 501c3 non-profit organization founded by Kin On and International Community Health Services (ICHS), will offer a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The PACE program is a nationally-recognized model of care that enables low-income, nursing-home eligible adults to live independently at home or in the community.

The facility will be built on the vacant north parking lot of Pacific Hospital on north Beacon Hill as part of a larger development that will include affordable housing and an early childhood center.

AiPACE will provide integrated health care in an environment that allows seniors to “age in place,” with easy access to support services and close to family members. The services include preventive, primary, acute and long-term care.

“We are helping redefine the future of senior living for our frailest seniors otherwise destined for nursing homes. PACE allows seniors to remain independent with our high quality and comprehensive services,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “Supporting our capital campaign is an investment in our frail seniors today, so they can remain in the community and enjoy their honored place with their friends and families.”

Heidi Wong has been appointed AiPACE capital campaign manager effective February 1, 2019.

“Heidi has played an integral role in Kin On’s growth and development over the last 12 years,” said Nigel Lo, Kin On’s CEO and AiPACE board member. “During her tenure, she has instilled a great trust with our donors and partners, led our successful Expansion Project Capital Campaign among other key initiatives, and built a growing team of young and committed talents inside the organization. We wish her well as she begins the next chapter in her career and look forward to her ongoing involvement in the elder care industry.”

“I look forward to working closely with Heidi on the AiPACE capital campaign,” said Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director. “Her appointment represents an up-and-coming generation of leadership, as well as the continuation of the ideals behind ICHS and Kin On as community-founded and community-serving organizations.”

“Having personally experienced how a well-coordinated, integrated approach to care enabled my own grandmother to live independently at home until the age of 99, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of this exciting campaign,” expressed Wong, “Together, we can ensure that every senior receives the best care they need to age in place with respect and dignity.”

Applications open for ICHS’s ARNP residency program: Preparing a future generation of primary care providers

ARNP residency program, Rebecca Calderara, Holly Park clinic
Resident Rebecca Calderara with a patient at ICHS’s Holly Park Clinic.

After completing her nurse practitioner program, Megan Wilbert wanted additional training that would help her more confidently care for patients. Wilbert’s feelings are not uncommon – and driving interest in residencies as the future of nurse practitioner training.

“Your learning is a lot more accelerated than an MD and you have no residency with the exception of clinicals, which can vary,” said Wilbert, ARNP at International Community Health Services (ICHS) clinic in Shoreline. “I’m so grateful I did it. It’s a huge transition to suddenly be responsible for patients.”

Wilbert doesn’t just work at ICHS, she was also part of the first cohort of participants in the community health clinic’s ARNP residency program, now in its fifth year and the first to be accredited in the U.S. It prepares newly licensed and certified nurse practitioners for careers as primary care providers in a community health setting. It was pioneered by ICHS provider DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP, who was named 2016 Washington state American Association of Nurse Practitioner of the Year for her work.

“ICHS’s unique population of immigrants and refugees made it the perfect place to develop and evolve this program,” says Huynh, who serves as the program’s director. “Each year, we’ve made changes to the curriculum to meet individual resident needs. We are viewed as a leader and many programs in the region mirror ICHS’s curriculum.”

Kelli Hiraoka, ARNP, immediately felt a connection. “I recall visiting ICHS on my interview and feeling inspired by the staff and workplace,” she said. “Each day is unpredictable, exciting and stimulating. You might be inserting a nexplanon procedure for contraception, managing an insulin-dependent diabetic, investigating why that six-month old kiddo has a persistent fever, or telling your female patient she’s finally pregnant after six months of trying. Or you could be helping a patient with heart failure who does not take his meds due to financial constraints, or an adolescent struggling with self harm and suicidal ideation.”

Participants credit Huynh’s leadership and the program’s high quality as selling points. Ongoing structure and support are built into the curriculum, which offers a ramp up schedule, continual education with weekly didactics and exposure to different clinical specialties. Each cohort is responsible for developing a population-focused solution to a current health challenge. Past projects led to the creation of ICHS’s Young Adult Center, the first teen health center in Shoreline, and a video storytelling initiative.

“I absolutely loved the residency and feel like it has prepared me well for the transition into independent practice. The ability to have dedicated preceptors, with decades of primary care experience was critical in my development as a clinician and has given me a strong footing for working in the challenging world of community health,” said Dan Gundry, ARNP, fourth cohort participant. “The entire team at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic is incredibly warm and welcoming, so I felt at home right away. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and would highly recommend it.”

ICHS also provides tools for building a sustainable career. Participants are taught how to manage the behind-the-scenes work of a provider. Wilbert recalls ICHS providers coaching her cohort on efficiency and clinic flow, and how to develop better charting, diagnostics and lab management skills.

“I see other colleagues who didn’t get a residency and there tends to be a high level of burnout,” said Maura Carroll, ARNP, DNP, a participant in ICHS’s second cohort. “It gave me a solid skill set and supported my professional goals in community health.”

ICHS’s ARNP program residents are scheduled to work together. “I loved the cohort I worked with,” Wilbert said. “It was awesome to have two other people to bounce ideas off of and support you. Going through the experience side-by-side is extremely helpful.”

Many of ICHS’s ARNP residency program participants have opted to stay on at ICHS after graduation.

“ICHS used to have a difficult time recruiting providers, including nurse practitioners. Since the residency, we’ve been able to fill all vacancies,” said Huynh. “We have the added confidence of knowing residents are well prepared to provide holistic care to our diverse and complex patient population.”

As ICHS continues to invest a future pipeline of qualified health professionals, Huynh would like to expand the program to include physician assistants, and to offer consultation and support for regional programs from other organization.

Applications for ICHS’s 2019-2020 ARNP residency program are currently being accepted until March 25, 2019. Click here to apply and for more information.

ICHS promotes healthy aging with hire of PACE medical director

International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced Eric ‘Ric’ Troyer, MD has been hired as medical director of its proposed Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), an innovative Medicare and Medicaid program that provides comprehensive health care and services to meet the needs of frail adults 55 and older. PACE centers aim to keep people in their homes and communities and out of a nursing home. ICHS plans to open a PACE center at Legacy House located in the International District in spring 2019. Previously, Dr. Troyer served as executive medical director of Swedish Medical Group’s continuum of care.

Dr. Troyer brings 20 years of leadership in geriatric medicine to his role at ICHS, where he will be responsible for developing ICHS capacity and programs serving the elderly, with particular emphasis on the PACE model of care. He will direct the delivery of care at the proposed ICHS PACE at Legacy House, which will open in spring 2019, assembling and leading an interdisciplinary care team, and developing and growing related community partnerships.

Studies show that PACE enrollees have better health outcomes – with fewer hospital admissions, hospital days, emergency room visits and preventable emergency room visits – at the same time Medicare and Medicaid realize significant cost savings.

“I’m pleased to welcome Ric to the ICHS team. His expertise will be invaluable as we respond to an aging baby boomer population and evidence pointing to the advantages of programs that facilitate ‘aging in place.’ Not only are there individual and systemic cost savings, but there are also emotional, social and health benefits to consider when people stay in their homes and within their communities,” said Dr. Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “Ric will bring tremendous insight as we expand delivery of highly coordinated and personalized care for older, frail adults and help them live more safely, comfortably and independently.”

Dr. Troyer led a number of departments and areas of specialty during his tenure with Swedish Medical Group, including starting a transitional care program for recently hospitalized patients in 2011, and serving as the chief of family medicine at Swedish Medical Center, First Hill Campus from 2005 to 2007. He has been on staff as an active physician at Swedish Medical Center since 1998. From 2006 to 2011, Dr. Troyer served as the medical director for Evercare in Washington and Oregon, directing clinical care models for several special needs populations including those with chronic disease, those living in nursing homes, and those with Medicare and Medicaid. Over the span of his career, Dr. Troyer has contributed his leadership to a number of medical directorships and the delivery of geriatric care, alternative health care, chronic disease management and primary care to underserved populations for hospital systems and nursing facilities throughout the Puget Sound area. He was the president of the Washington State Medical Directors Association from 2009 to 2018 and currently serves as an assistant clinical professor with the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Troyer obtained his MD from the Medical College of Virginia and completed his residency at Swedish Family Medicine followed by geriatric and faculty-development fellowships at Swedish and the University of Washington.

ICHS PACE programs address a growing need
The U.S. Census estimates nearly 25% of King County’s total population will be 65 years or older by 2040 — up from about 18%.  ICHS plans to further meet the area’s needs for affordable senior health services by establishing PACE programs. These include Aging in PACE (AiPACE) Washington, a new non-profit organization that partners Kin On and ICHS to open a $20 million PACE center in North Beacon Hill, slated to open in 2021.

ICHS earns national recognition for efforts to reduce heart attacks and strokes

ICHS Medical Director Dr. Asqual Getaneh (far right) and ICHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rayburn Lewis present staff with the Target: BP award on behalf of the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association.

International Community Health Services (ICHS) patients are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke thanks to the health center’s success rate in controlling hypertension.

ICHS’s efforts were recently recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) through its “Target: BP” program, which aims to improve blood pressure control and build a healthier nation. ICHS earned gold status as one of just 340 physician practices and health systems to achieve blood pressure control rates of 70 percent or greater for adult patients in 2018. Of the 103 million Americans with high blood pressure, less than half have it under control.

“Thank you to all ICHS providers for working so hard to keep our patients healthy,” said Dr. Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “No single risk factor has more impact on whether or not cardiovascular disease ends up being a killer than high blood pressure. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be managed under the care of a professional staff of physicians and advanced practice clinicians. We connect our patients to dieticians, health educators and clinical pharmacists to make sure they are eating right, seeing their doctor regularly and taking their medication properly. Additionally, we make sure our training reflects best practices for taking blood pressure readings and that hypertension data is recorded accurately.”

Launched in 2015, Target: BP is a national initiative of the AHA and AMA aimed at addressing the growing issue of high blood pressure. More than 1,600 physician practices and health systems nationwide have joined Target: BP.

Fight the proposed changes to “public charge”

What is public charge?
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed changes to the definition of “public charge” that would expand the criteria that apply when a person is applying for admission to the United States or seeking a green card or legal permanent residency.

Historically, those applying for permanent status must demonstrate that they will not be dependent on government programs (cash benefits like Temporary Assistance to Needy families/TANF, SSI and long-term care). The proposed regulation would expand the list of federal benefits that the government may consider as part of its process, to include:

  • Medicaid
  • Medicare Part D (low income subsidy for prescriptions)
  • Federal Housing (Section 8 housing vouchers and any Section 8 housing)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps)

ICHS believes this proposal undermines public health and humanitarian values as it continues to attack immigrants seeking legal residence in the U.S.

Our communities must make public comments by December 10 to stop or delay the adoption of this proposal. All comments have to be reviewed by the government prior to adoption. ICHS urges patients, families and communities to stay calm and take action to:

  1. STOP FINAL ADOPTION OF THE NEW REGULATION. ICHS is working with Protecting Immigrant Families, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations and the National Association of Community Health Centers to try and stop the proposal’s final adoption by generating as many public comments as possible by the Dec. 10 deadline. You can submit as many comments as you want, but each comment must be unique.
  1. GET THE SUPPORT AND BENEFITS YOU NEED NOW. The proposed rule is not in effect and will take months to be adopted because of the public comment, review and response period that the federal government has to legally observe. Anyone currently legally qualified to participate in Medicaid, Medicare Part D, public housing and SNAP is still qualified to use them. 
  1. NOT ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE SUBJECT TO THE “PUBLIC CHARGE” TEST. Exempt are U.S. citizens; green card holders; refugees; asylees (applying for or granted asylum); people applying for green cards under the Violence Against Women Act; survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes (those who have or are applying for “U” or “T” visas); and children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

The City of Seattle has created an overview with Frequently Asked Questions and resources.