Federal grant to ICHS allows hiring of additional dental providers

Photo by Steve Shelton
ICHS Photo by Steve Shelton

International Community Health Services (ICHS) will hire two additional dental providers, thanks to a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The grant, approved by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), provides funding for two additional dental providers at ICHS, which will allow more patients to receive dental care, particularly those from underserved communities. The dental providers will be assigned to ICHS clinics in Bellevue and Shoreline.


Founded in 1973 as a small, storefront clinic in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the non-profit ICHS is now the largest provider of health care to Asian Pacific Islanders in Washington state.


“We’re very excited and grateful to receive this grant because this will not only allow more underserved patients access to culturally and linguistically appropriate dental care, but will also allow patients to be seen more quickly,” Dr. Ji Choi, ICHS dental director, said.


ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola said the grant arrives at an opportune time, since many underserved patients are facing serious problems of access to dental services.


In 2014, Apple Health, Washington’s Medicaid program, restored dental coverage for adults after eliminating it in 2011. But Washington has one of the lowest rates of Medicaid reimbursement in the nation to dental providers, prompting many private dentists to decline seeing Medicaid patients.


“This has greatly increased reliance on safety net dental providers, such as ICHS,” Batayola said.


As a leading health care provider to Asian and Pacific Islanders and the broader community in Washington, ICHS has been working continually to address dental health problems among its patients.


As a whole, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders (A/NHOPIs) have the worst oral health indicators of any ethnic groups in King County, according to figures from Public Health – Seattle King County. According to a study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine,

the lack of providers who can assist them in their own languages, and educational materials that are often difficult to read even when translated, have contributed to the reluctance of A/NHOPIs and other immigrant groups to seek preventive dental care.


For more information about ICHS, please visit: www.ichs.com