International Community Health Services (ICHS) and the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington recently highlighted the power of storytelling as a tool to raise awareness of Hepatitis B. Although often at greater risk, many within U.S. immigrant and minority communities are reluctant to speak openly about the bloodborne disease, increasing the chances of developing serious health issues, including liver cancer.
On May 10, ICHS and the coalition jointly hosted the 2018 Annual Community Forum on Hepatitis B, inviting community leaders, health advocates and organizations to hear speakers from the #Just B Story Telling Project share firsthand experiences. Afterwards, attendees discussed how Hepatitis B continues to disproportionately affect the Asian Pacific Islander and African immigrant and refugee communities and renewed their commitment to raise awareness and knowledge about the disease.
“This was our first live storytelling event, so we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Mohammed Abdul-Kadir, Hepatitis Coalition of Washington coordinator. “Our courageous and well-trained storytellers effectively demonstrated how the sharing of authentic human experiences immediately breaks down barriers. Attendees were engaged, leading to an especially vibrant post-presentation discussion.”
“It was very powerful to hear the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by the Hepatitis B virus,” said an attendee. Another described the forum as “phenomenal.”
Abdul-Kadir was recently asked to share best practices in reducing cultural, linguistic and systemic barriers to Hepatitis B care by PRIME Education, LLC (PRIME®), a leader in quality improvement education. On May 23, Abdul-Kadir participated in a taping of a training video that will soon be offered to medical providers as part of PRIME’s continuing education curriculum.
On May 22, King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked International Community Health Services’ (ICHS) CEO Teresita Batayola for the health center’s role keeping kids healthy and learning at Highland Middle School. Executive Constantine was at the school to celebrate the partnerships behind ICHS’s school-based health center, which opened this fall as the first in Bellevue, and discuss connecting youth in King County with resources to stay strong and successful.
Batayola joined leaders from Best Starts for Kids, Youth Eastside Services (YES), Bellevue School District and Highland Middle School as they discussed serving an increasingly diverse Eastside community and the challenges facing immigrant and refugee youth and families.
“Immigrant and refugee youth carry the burden of making sure their families are connected,” said Batayola. “The stress and anxiety for them is huge.”
Following the discussion, Sherryl Grey, ICHS health and school services manager, provided Executive Constantine with a tour of the school’s clinic, including a tour of ICHS’s mobile dental clinic, which provides mobile dental services to schools around King County.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) honors the memory and mourns the passing of longtime community activist and dear friend Tosh Okamoto, who passed away on May 19.
“Tosh was one of my personal heroes and one of a handful of our community giants,” Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director, said. “He was a visionary with a lifelong passion for health access, social justice and community empowerment. He was one of the most humble, compassionate and committed individuals I’ve ever known. At ICHS, we cherish his memory.”
Okamoto, a co-founder of Nikkei Concerns and longtime member and former commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee, changed countless lives for the better by helping establish the first Japanese American nursing home in the Pacific Northwest and fighting for the long-overdue recognition of thousands of Japanese American veterans who fought for the U.S. during World War II.
In 2015, Okamoto was recognized with the ICHS Bamboo Award for Health, honoring his work to improve the lives of disadvantaged and underserved local residents. In 2006, the Consul General of Japan presented him with the Order of the Rising Sun award in honor of his tireless work on behalf of the Japanese American community and in fostering friendship between the U.S. and Japan.