ICHS distributes COVID-19 test kits to community organizations
On Jan. 28, International Community Health Services (ICHS) began distributing 5,400 rapid at-home COVID-19 test kits to representatives from 16 community organizations in front of the ICHS Shoreline Medical & Dental Clinic.
This was ICHS’ first concerted effort to deliver COVID-19 at-home test kits to trusted community partners to reach medically underserved communities across the Puget Sound region. Recipients included nonprofit social service organizations as well as places of worship serving first-generation immigrant communities.
Reactions were jubilant. All the representatives shared how difficult it has been for their members and clients to find rapid test kits during the surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.
“These test kits mean safety”
Sieng Douangdala, community engagement manager at Kandelia, arrived early to pick up their boxes. With a plan in place to put test kits in Kandelia’s weekly food bags given to Seattle World School students, they will find their way to hundreds of families across Seattle.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Dounagdala. “We know that the federal government is issuing test kits, but there are four [kits] per household, and a lot of our families have five, six, all the way up to 12 people in the household.”
And not only that, but many of their clients have found the English websites completely inaccessible, and due to transportation, internet, or language barriers have been unable to find COVID-19 testing during the Omicron surge.
“These test kits mean safety,” Douangdala added.
Zafu Aragai, from the Tigrean Community Center, drove up from Skyway to pick up test kits from ICHS. She’s heard from church members who have driven for “like five, six hours looking for COVID-19 testing.”
“This Saturday we're gonna work on instructions,” said Aragai. “Write down bullet points, we’re trying to draw little illustrations so people can see. We’re going to do a demonstration so that people know how to go about it and do it properly.”
“These can’t wait”
As part of the Biden administration’s “Path Out of the Pandemic” COVID-19 Action Plan, community health centers like ICHS that serve medically underserved communities will receive at-home self-test kits directly from the federal government to distribute to patients and communities for free. When a large shipment arrived on Monday, Jan. 24, ICHS quickly leapt into action, said Sherryl Grey, ICHS director of community services.
“These can’t wait,” she added. “People need these now.”
Members of the ICHS community health services team reached out to community partner organizations that ICHS has worked with in the past, nonprofits that make mutual referrals, and community organizations like the Tigrean Community Center that serve as anchors for communities facing barriers to healthcare access.
As a community health center, ICHS’ work has always been to go out into the community and meet people where they are, Grey said. These test kits are only the most recent example of ICHS’ dedication to serving the community.
COVID-19 testing safety and guidelines
If you test positive from an over-the-counter COVID-19 test kit, please report it immediately by calling the Washington state COVID-19 hotline at (800) 525-0127. Language assistance is available. The hotline is open Monday, 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and Tuesday-Saturday, 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that fake COVID-19 test kits are being sold online. Make sure the test you’re buying is authorized by the FDA. Follow these Federal Trade Commission tips if you’re shopping online for COVID test kits and related items.
ICHS administers walk-in COVID-19 vaccines at ICHS pharmacies in Shoreline and Seattle (International District and Holly Park neighborhoods). Non-ICHS patients may walk in Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Visit the ICHS vaccine appointment page to learn more.