In Hawaiian culture “Aloha” means more than hello and goodbye. Aloha is the island way of life based on love, compassion and friendship.
ICHS pharmacy manager Jon Sonoda passed away on Dec. 23, leaving family, friends, co-workers and patients saddened by the loss of his warm Aloha spirit. Jon led three full service pharmacies at ICHS’s Chinatown, Shoreline and Holly Park locations, pharmacy education, and pharmacy services at ACRS and Seattle World School.
Jon had a lot of plans to improve services to ICHS patients. He was the cheerleader, with always an upbeat word for others. While he felt embarrassed about any spotlight, he enjoyed it and always gave credit to his pharmacy team. He was extremely proud and protective of them and believed that his team was capable of anything. Jon’s love had no boundaries. Work or home, Jon’s generous nature was to reach out to and support whoever needed it, however they might need it.
ICHS Foundation director Ron Chew said Jon’s generosity extended into the realm of charitable giving. “During our year-end fundraising campaign, he would come by my office and say, ‘Ron, give me a form. Who should I made a check out to?’ I never even had to ask. That’s the kind of person he was.”
Jon is survived by his wife, Zoe Sonoda, who has asked that charitable donations in Jon’s memory go to the ICHS Foundation. Please click here for instructions on how to designate a gift in Jon’s name.
Jon’s positive outlook, his passion for the ICHS vision and mission, and his service to others will be carried forward by all who knew him.
International Community Health Services (ICHS), the largest neighborhood-based health care provider for Asian Pacific Islander and immigrant communities in Washington State, held a ribbon-cutting service on Nov. 6, to celebrate the opening of its new vision clinic in the Chinatown-International District.
The 1,200-square-foot clinic, located in a storefront across the plaza from the ICHS medical-dental building in International District Village Square, was built with support from a $350,000 grant from the City of Seattle. Design began in October 2016, and the clinic was completed last month. The clinic includes two exam rooms and is expected to handle approximately 900 visits by its second year of operation.
Dr. Andrea Liem, optometrist for the new clinic, says she’s excited to start serving ICHS patients. She said the emphasis of the clinic will be providing primary eye care.
She pointed out that she herself has been going to see an optometrist since middle school. “I’ve worn contact lenses and eyeglasses in the past, and eventually had laser surgery to correct my myopia,” Dr. Liem said. “Based on my personal experience and my family’s need for vision care, I am able to empathize with and better serve my patients.”
ICHS currently provides primary care to nearly 29,000 patients in over 50 different languages at its seven clinic locations in Seattle, Shoreline and Bellevue.
The vision clinic concept arose out of discovery that only half of ICHS patients completed their referrals for eye care. Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO, said, “Vision problems in the United States are the most prevalent disability among children and youth, and is one of the top disabilities for adults.”
Batayola noted that next year will be the 45th anniversary of ICHS. “It’s nice to finally have this sorely needed service in place as we celebrate our agency’s milestone,” she said.
Amanda Chin, a Beacon Hill resident, had strongly advocated for the vision clinic as a member of the ICHS patient advisory council several years ago. “For me to be able to voice this and now actually seeing it happen is amazing,” said Chin. She and her family—including her mother, father, two brothers and sister—are longtime ICHS patients. Members of the Chin family attended the ribbon-cutting.
Former Seattle City Council member Jean Godden, who helped secure the $350,000 grant from the City during the 2015 budget process, was also at the ceremony. The grant was one of Godden’s last pieces of legislation before she retired.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced that Rayburn Lewis, MD has been named chief medical officer after serving in an interim capacity since July. Dr. Lewis retired as CEO of Swedish Issaquah in 2016.
“We look forward to Dr. Lewis’ leadership as we continue to champion health equity, care and coverage for the most fragile populations who need affordable care – those who are low-income, uninsured and underinsured,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “We are deeply honored that Dr. Lewis has chosen to bring his leadership acumen to ICHS and to continue his passion for service in our communities.”
Dr. Lewis brings valuable knowledge and perspective as a physician-leader and an active member of the African American community, who has worked at creating social impact. Dr. Lewis’ tenure of success at the Swedish Medical Centers is expected to fortify ICHS’ growth in meeting the needs of the communities around ICHS clinics, especially the underserved, Asian Pacific Islanders, immigrants and refugees.
Dr. Lewis’ focus on helping the medically underserved started early. While still a medical student, he served on the board of the Yesler Terrace clinic, which saw patients from the Yesler Terrace housing project and nearby neighborhood. He was also a board member for Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Centers, now Neighborcare Health. He was an active leader of area school and sports programs that encouraged young men of color to experience the outdoors.
“I believe in providing the health safety net to people – regardless of ethnic and racial background, nation of origin, language, gender or gender preference,” said Dr. Lewis. “My entire career, whether through work in the community or at Swedish and Providence has been built on this commitment. The work of community health centers reduces the need for many hospital visits. The prospect of serving our communities on such a deep and transformative level was an irresistible lure out of retirement. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn as well as contribute.”
Prior to his role as CEO of Swedish Issaquah, Dr. Lewis served as executive director and vice president of medical affairs at Swedish Ballard, and as COO at Swedish Cherry Hill. Dr. Lewis is a graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, where he completed his internal medicine residency and served as chief medical resident from 1982 to 1983. He also completed an assignment as a general medical officer in orthopedics with the U.S. Public Health Service in Seattle. Dr. Lewis joined the medical staff at Swedish Health Services and Providence Seattle Medical Center in 1984, while starting a medical practice in Columbia City. He joined the Minor & James Medical Group in 1987, practicing there till 1996, and subsequently maintained a practice at the Swedish Family Medicine/Cherry Hill campus residency clinic until 2008.
As the elected chief of staff at Providence Seattle Medical Center in 1995, Dr. Lewis was recruited as medical director for quality and medical affairs. Serving in this capacity from 1995 to 2002, he became Swedish’s vice president for medical affairs from 2002 to 2007, after the two hospitals merged. He also served as medical director of the Mother Joseph Clinic at Swedish Cherry Hill for specialty care of community patients.
The open enrollment period to enroll, renew or change health plans for 2018 starts on Nov. 1 through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. This year’s open enrollment period is shorter than past years, so act sooner rather than later! If you miss the Jan. 15, 2018 deadline, you and your family may be unable to make changes or sign up for benefits until the next enrollment period in fall of 2018.
Nov 1, 2017 – Open enrollment begins
Dec 15, 2017 – Deadline to enroll for coverage to begin by Jan. 1, 2018
Jan 15, 2018 – Open enrollment ends
FREE help from ICHS ICHS provides free help for patients and for anyone seeking to enroll or renew health insurance. Plan ahead and schedule an appointment with an expert, multilingual outreach and enrollment coordinator, who can explain options and assist with sign up. Together, ICHS staff speak eight languages including: Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, Somali, Tagalog, Russian and Punjabi. Call 206-788-3700 and ask for a 2018 health insurance enrollment appointment.
Walk-in appointments available ICHS offers open enrollment walk-in appointments on Saturdays at the ICHS International District Clinic (2nd floor) from 9 am to 3 pm. Come in on one of these Saturdays for help and answers:
Grant Implications for Health Centers after September 30, 2017
1. When will the health centers program officially go over the Cliff?
Until and unless Congress allocates sufficient funding to replenish the Community Health Centers Fund, no new mandatory funds (which constitute 70% of total funding for Section 330) will be provided to HRSA after September 30, 2017. Therefore at the Health Centers program level, the funding expires October 1.
2. When will my health center feel the direct impact of going over the Cliff?
Without a fix by Congress, your health center will feel the direct impact (meaning changes to your grant award) of going over the Cliff at the start of your next budget period, when the amount of funding your health center receives will reflect any new limitations on Section 330 funds. No health center grant periods for FY18 begin until January. Current-year funding (FY17) is not affected.
3. When will my health center feel the indirect impact of going over the Cliff?
Health centers across the country are already reporting indirect impacts from just the threat of going over the Cliff, and the disruption caused by not knowing the stability of future funding. The uncertainty around long-term funding is impacting their ability to: recruit and retain providers and other staff, to obtain loans and extend lines of credit, to sign leases and contracts and to make longterm investments and plans. We expect these “indirect” impacts to increase the longer Congress goes without a funding cliff fix.
4. Which health centers will first feel the direct impact of going over the Cliff?
A total of 235 health center organizations (1 in 6) have budget periods that begin on January 1, 2018. (No health centers have budget periods that begin in October, November, or December.) That means the Notices of Awards these 235 health centers receive for their budget period starting 1/1/2018 will likely reflect limitations on Section 330 funds, including the possibility of monthto-month funding.
5. When will HRSA make funding decisions for the January 1, 2018 Notice of Award (NOAs)?
Mid-November – that’s when they must start preparing the 1/1/2018 NOAs. 6. When will HRSA run out of money without a cliff fix? Unless Congress acts to fix the funding cliff before then, HRSA would run out of all funds by early-to-mid 2018
On Sept. 22, ICHS Holly Park Clinic and ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola were honored to host a press conference for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell as she spoke out against the Graham Cassidy bill, the latest attack on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
The bill would block grants supporting Medicaid and redistributes funds to all states, hurting Washington state and the many who have benefited Medicaid expansion. The bill will also eliminate insurance subsidies for working individuals and families who are low income but don’t qualify for Medicaid.
In illustrating the bill’s harmful effects, Sen. Cantwell was joined by two patients — a mom who spoke of her 7-year-old child with a rare medical condition and a woman who is a four-time survivor of different cancers.
“Our state is fortunate to have Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray lead the fight for affordable, quality health care. We all need to contact our friends, families and networks in other states, especially Alaska, to contact their own U.S. senators to defeat the Graham Cassidy proposal and to focus on bipartisan solutions to stabilize community health centers before our funding expires on September 30,” said Batayola.
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.
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.
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.
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.