Keep our community’s health within reach | Rana Amini

Over the past three years, since Medicaid coverage was expanded in our state to provide insurance to an additional 600,000 people, I have seen lives and communities transformed. These include our Eastside communities. This coverage has brought greater health, peace of mind, and more possibilities for those who’ve gained it as a result of the Affordable Care Act and our state’s bipartisan decision to expand Medicaid. We have been able to come so far and achieve better health access for many and now we must not move backwards.

Expanded insurance coverage has enabled community health centers to provide more comprehensive primary care, including wellness exams, chronic disease management and dental care. The potential loss of Medicaid coverage has caused a lot of anxiety among our patients. We are hearing our patients’ concerns on a regular basis regarding losing health care for their children, as well as themselves. Nothing is worse than seeing your loved ones in pain and distress, and that is why maintaining Medicaid coverage is so important.

Support to maintain coverage and care for our low-income and vulnerable residents must happen at both the federal and state level. Washington state has long been a leader in improving access to care. And our state is stronger because of it. We must maintain the bi-partisan support that has created these opportunities and successes and protect the safety net.

There’s also work to be done to improve health care access because insurance coverage doesn’t always guarantee you can get care. Two areas in particular create barriers to care – a serious shortage of providers for underserved communities and not enough dental clinics to meet tremendous demand.

To attract more providers to serve patients with complex needs at community health centers and other settings, we have a proven solution in the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. Two years ago the Legislature wisely re-invested in the program after years of major cuts. Last year behavioral health specialists, who are critical in enabling us to treat the whole person, were included in the program for the first time. But only 40 percent of the people who applied received awards last year, even before a whole new category of providers was added. Our health center has 12 medical providers and seven dentists who are potentially eligible for loan repayment but aren’t able to get it. Loan repayment programs help community health centers recruit and retain quality health care providers. Across the state, community health centers are asking for a $9 million increase to the program to ensure more communities can get care.

The shortage of dental clinics across the state has created a real crisis for people’s oral health. Only one in five Medicaid patients received dental care last year as a result. Oral health problems negatively impact employability for adults, learning and school attendance for children, and management of chronic disease. International Community Health Services has nearly tripled the number of dental chairs throughout its clinics, including adding 10 dental chairs in the Bellevue Medical and Dental Clinic in May 2014, and all clinics are already at capacity. Community health centers have plans for dozens of new and expanded dental clinics across the state. An additional investment from the state legislature can make them a reality, bringing oral health to tens of thousands more people.

Giving people insurance coverage and access to health care shouldn’t be political. It should just be common sense and a right.

Redmond resident Rana Amini is a health advocacy manager for International Community Health Services (ICHS), a nonprofit community health center that offers affordable health care services to King County’s Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, and the broader community. ICHS provides primary care services including medical, dental, and behavioral health at seven locations, including Bellevue.

Link to Redmond Reporter:

Nominations for 2017 Bamboo Award for Health

Donnie Chin and Washington Dental Service Foundation will be honored at 2016 ICHS Foundation Bloom Gala
Donnie Chin and Washington Dental Service Foundation being honored at 2016 ICHS Foundation Bloom Gala

Nominations are now being accepted by International Community Health Services (ICHS) and the ICHS Foundation for the 2017 Bamboo Award for Health to recognize the outstanding work of people and organizations in supporting ICHS and its mission.

The nominations will be accepted until March 6. Awardees will be contacted by March 17. The award will be presented at the ICHS Bloom Gala on May 6.

The Bamboo Award for Health was established to recognize the exceptional work and achievement of people and organizations that support ICHS’s mission of providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health services to improve the health of Asian Pacific Islanders (API) and the broader community.

These works and achievements may have resulted in:
— Increasing access to health services for ICHS patients, clients, or the local Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community and other local underserved communities.
— Improving measurable health outcomes for ICHS patients, clients, or the local API community or other local underserved communities.
— Increased resources that allow ICHS to serve or expand its patient and client populations.

The nomination can be submitted via 2017 Bamboo Award Nomination Form  or the google form.

ARNP Residency Program Grows in National Recognition

From left: William Hoskyn, DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP,  Kelsey Tanaka, Hyelim Park, Dr. Beth Weitensteiner

Three years ago, ICHS launched its Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Residency Program, a program designed to prepare newly licensed and certified nurse practitioners for careers as primary care providers in a community health setting. After rigorous review, the program received accreditation from the National Nurse Practitioner Residency & Fellowship Training Consortium, making it the first accredited program in the Washington State and the second in the nation.

The nurse practitioner residency was pioneered by ICHS provider DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP. As part of her doctoral thesis, Huynh wanted to develop a training program for new family practice providers to teach them essential skills for serving patients with complex health needs and address systemic inequalities that affect their health.

“The unique population of immigrants and refugees we see at ICHS made it the perfect place to develop this program,” says Huynh, who also serves as the Director of the ARNP Residency Program.

Huynh was named Washington State’s American Association of Nurse Practitioner of the Year in 2016 for her work in developing the residency program. Because of the growing national recognition for the program, ICHS received 40 applications for three highly-coveted slots in its 2016-2017 class.

“I have been so impressed with the caliber of applicants we have attracted to this program,” says Dr. Beth Weitensteiner, ICHS provider and Deputy Director for the ARNP Residency Program. “This year’s group is amazing and incredibly talented.”

“The fact that our residents reach out to their own classmates and networks to recruit for us speaks to the quality of the training and curriculum we have developed here,” adds Huynh.

So far, six ARNPs have completed the challenging curriculum and continued on as primary care providers at the ICHS clinics.  When the residency program first began, the ICHS International District (ID) clinic served as the training site for the residents. In its third year, the program moved to the ICHS Holly Park clinic.

Learn more about the ICHS ARNP Residency Program

Learn more about the providers at ICHS

Learn about the ICHS Family Medicine Residency Program

Learn about the ICHS Primary Care Dental Residency Program

New ICHS Shoreline pharmacy opens this February

This month, a brand-new pharmacy officially opens at the ICHS Shoreline Medical and Dental Clinic. The pharmacy will accept most major insurance plans, including AppleHealth, Medicare Part D and other plans available through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. It will also offer discounted medications to qualified low-income patients with limited or no prescription coverage.

The ICHS Shoreline clinic is the first and only nonprofit community health center in Shoreline that offers affordable medical and dental care. Since its opening in 2014, ICHS has added health education and behavioral health services, as well as a Young Adult Clinic (for youth ages 14-24) and a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition program.

“The addition of the new pharmacy will provide patients with a one-stop shop for their health care needs,” says ICHS pharmacy manager Jon Sonoda.

Betty Cheung, ICHS pharmacist and Shoreline pharmacy supervisor, is excited for the pharmacy’s official opening on February 6, 2017. “An on-site pharmacy will provide convenience for our patients and help improve their overall care. Our staff will have more opportunities to educate patients about their health conditions and ensure that they understand their medications,” she said.

In addition to dispensing medication, ICHS staff pharmacists routinely provide clinic consultations and medication reviews for patients.

The ICHS Shoreline Pharmacy officially opens on February 6.  Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and is closed for lunch between 1 p.m.  to 2 p.m.

Learn more about the ICHS Shoreline pharmacy

Learn more about the ICHS Shoreline clinic

Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccines are available to protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer.

No woman should die of cervical cancer. You can help prevent cervical cancer by getting screened regularly, starting at age 21.

Here are 10 things to know about HPV and Cervical cancer.

For more information:

Received Community Grant from PCC

Pictured left to right: Layton Wakatsuki, Kirkland PCC, Store Director; Blanca Lujan Westrich, Community Advocate Coordinator, International Community Health Services; Dicken Leung, Patient Navigator, International Community Health Services; Edilberto Flores, Community Care Coordinator, Jubilee REACH; Barb Blomstrand, Hospitality Manager, Jubilee REACH (Photo by PCC Natural Markets)

ICHS is happy to announce a $1000 community grant from PCC Natural Markets, the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States.

The assistance, received in January, will be used to support ICHS Community Kitchen program and its expansion to Bellevue.

ICHS Community Kitchen started 2012 and was born out of the idea that healthy meals can be delicious and ought to be shared among friends and family. Every month, it provides an opportunity to cook a planned recipe together and learn about nutrition.

Once ICHS Community Kitchen expands to Bellevue, it is looking to utilized the space at the Jubilee REACH Community Center.

Dr. Kimo Hirayama received the Physician Summit Award

Dr. Kimo Hiratama with ICHS Shoreline Medical staffs, some of board members, and some executive team members.


Dr. Kimo Hiratama receiving the Physician Summit Award


Congratulations to Dr. Kimo Hirayama, who received the Physician Summit Award from the Coordinated Care. Physician Summit Award is presented annually to the Coordinated Care network provider with the highest quality scores in the state.  Award ceremony was held in Shoreline Clinic on Thursday, December 1st.

Here’s a short statement from Dr. Kimo Hirayama:

“As a Patient-Centered Medical Home, receiving the award from Coordinated Care really is a recognition of how well our team here at Shoreline works. In addition, support from billing, data, and QI teams also contribute to our high achieving scores. I hope that we can continue to provide high quality team-based care in our community!”