Seattle, Shoreline and Bellevue clinics honored as 2018 Immunize Washington award winners
International Community Health Service (ICHS) continues to set best practices for its work to protect young patients against future disease and improve vaccination rates in Washington state.
ICHS’s medical clinics in Seattle, Shoreline and Bellevue were recently honored as 2018 Immunize Washington award winners for outstanding success ensuring toddler and teen patients received their recommended vaccines. ICHS’s Seattle clinics in the Chinatown-International District and Holly Park neighborhoods had the highest immunization success rates for adolescents among all of the state’s medical providers.
The award comes on the heels of a prestigious national recognition in November honoring ICHS for outstanding achievements promoting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as a defense against several types of cancers. ICHS chief medical officer, Rayburn Lewis, credited a coordinated, whole care team approach for the clinics’ success.
“ICHS recognizes the importance of protecting young people against future disease,” said Lewis. “As a result we take a proactive, multi-pronged approach that leverages every member and resource within the medical team. We also excel in addressing factors such as language and culture that influence the success of our efforts to connect our diverse communities with quality health care.”
As Gold providers, the ICHS Holly Park, Chinatown-International District and Shoreline medical clinics respectively immunized 83% of toddlers and 94% of teens, 90% of toddlers and 89% of teens, and 80% of toddlers. This is the fourth consecutive year the Holly Park and Chinatown-International District clinics have been awarded Gold status, which is given to providers with a minimum 80% success rate ensuring up-to-date patient immunization. The ICHS Shoreline and Bellevue clinics were respectively honored as Silver and Bronze providers for immunization of teens.
The Immunize Washington provider recognition program is overseen by the Washington Health Plan Partnership, which is coordinated by the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Health Care Authority. The program recognizes clinics vaccinating 70% or more of their toddler and/or teen patients with recommended vaccines.
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.
Read more about the Executive’s visit on the Best Starts for Kids blog.
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.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) Foundation raised more than $250,000 to support uncompensated care at its annual Bloom Gala, held on May 5, attracting nearly 400 guests at the downtown Seattle Sheraton. Major gifts included $25,000 from the KeyBank Foundation, $20,000 from the Sheng Yen Lu Foundation and $10,000 from the Ark and Winnie Chin Foundation. Last year, ICHS provided $1.3 million in care to low-income patients who could not afford to pay for services.
“I thank everyone who turned out tonight to ‘Raise the Paddle’ and give so generously,” said ICHS Foundation director Ron Chew. “ICHS is fortunate to have the support of so many who share our vision of healthier people, thriving families, empowered communities and a just society.”
This year’s Bloom Gala celebrated ICHS’ 45th anniversary. A number of current and former ICHS board members and staff were present to help honor ICHS’s past and its remarkable evolution from a small volunteer-run clinic to a full-service health center serving nearly 31,000 patients at eight clinic locations. Among them, Janyce Ko Fisher, Hiroshi Nakano, Dorothy Wong, Dr. Alan Chun and Hermes Shahbazian were honored with the Sapphire Leadership Award for their contributions and leadership, while ICHS Board and Foundation board presidents Gildas Cheung and Leeching Tran recognized Chew and ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola for their pivotal impact.
Batayola’s keynote speech reminded attendees of ICHS’s early founders, local university students and activists, who envisioned providing a place to care for the health care needs of low income, elderly Filipino and Chinese-speaking residents of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. She drew parallels between their initial dream and ICHS’s efforts to fill the needs of a new generation of patients and immigrant arrivals.
“Much of what our founders fought for—and the proud legacy we stand on—continues to be under siege from national leaders who stoke fear and animosity against immigrants and refugees,” she said. “We will not be cowed into inaction.”
Veteran pharmaceutical executive Rachel Koh joins as senior director of pharmacy services
International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced Rachel Koh has been named senior director of pharmacy services, a newly created leadership position that will drive enhancements to ICHS’s pharmacy capabilities. Koh will be responsible for the administration of ICHS’s retail pharmacy operations, management of medication and vaccines within ICHS clinics, and developing new models of pharmacy care for ICHS’s rapidly expanding senior services programs.
Koh most recently served as the vice president of clinical product strategy for ZeOmega, where she helped develop new product and market strategies. She also led all certification and accreditation efforts. A pharmacist by training, Koh has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical and health care leadership experience.
“ICHS is constantly evolving with the changing needs of our patients, many of whom are low income, immigrants or refugees who face challenges to access to health care and affordable prescription drugs,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “As we add Rachel to the leadership team, we are strengthening our institutional response to the needs of our diverse communities, and to a sizeable local population that is getting older. A strong model of pharmacy care is important as we implement innovative programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly that allow them to ‘age in place’ within familiar and supportive surroundings.”
“I look forward to Rachel’s contributions as ICHS seeks greater efficiency and enhanced capabilities in giving our patients excellent and affordable pharmacy-related care,” said Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “Her background and experience will be invaluable as we seek greater standardization of pharmacy operations, streamline the delivery of ICHS’s pharmacy services and boost patients’ access to new and emerging drugs and treatments.”
Prior to ZeOmega, Koh was associate vice president of pharmacy for Community Health Plan Washington, where she oversaw administration of pharmacy benefits. She also served in pharmacy leadership roles for organizations including Community Health Plan Washington, Group Health Cooperative and Eckerd Drugs. Koh has a MBA from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s of pharmacy from the University of Kansas.
“I’m excited about joining ICHS and returning to the non-profit sector,” said Koh. “As a first generation immigrant, I feel a strong connection to the ICHS mission and the communities it serves. I look forward to using my knowledge and experience, particularly in advanced technology applications that enhance delivery of health services, to expand the scope of ICHS’s pharmacy care.”
Three days out of seven, Lucia Leandro Gimeno, a 38-year-old trans person who often goes by “LL,” goes to dialysis treatment. After a scary hospital stay less than a year ago, LL was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure, which means LL’s own kidneys can no longer do the important job of removing the body’s waste.
Today, LL looks dapper in a bright tee and scarf, the demands of a disease that requires constant medication, treatment and need for rest, camouflaged with an upbeat smile.
Medicaid and Medicare keep LL working and productive, but uncertainty over federal funding of these programs, and the health safety net that LL and many disabled people rely upon, leaves unsettling questions.
“The stress that I deal with, besides the lack of awareness around trans issues, is the stress around finances and health benefits. I don’t make that much money,” said LL.
LL is a trained doula and head of a non-profit that provides doula services to Seattle’s trans community. LL, who attended protests as a youth with two activist parents, is outspoken against efforts to curtail access to affordable health care, “It costs way less to provide free health care and education than it does to go elsewhere to bomb the s**t out of some other country or lock people in prison.”
The nation’s lack of health equity is like, “not being able to get ahead because you started a few steps behind.”
A key part of the support system that keeps LL well and whole, is International Community Health Services (ICHS), a non-profit health center with a clinic in Seattle’s Holly Park neighborhood. Just a short walk from LL’s home, LL’s primary care provider, Dr. Jessica Guh, and an integrated team of heath care professionals, keep watch over all aspects of LL’s wellbeing.
Jie Chen, pharmacy supervisor at ICHS’ Holly Park clinic, gave one example, “The pharmacy team plays an active role caring for a patient like LL, who takes multiple medications and receives treatment from multiple sources. We make sure there is constant monitoring and safety. Perhaps most importantly, we really work to build trust over time.”
The ICHS team not only helps LL manage a potentially fatal disease, they deliver care that is sensitive to the nuances of LL’s gender identity and need for gentle handling after trauma from past medical exams. This is a first for LL, whose early experiences with the medical community left deep distrust. LL says ICHS is the first place to give such complete care.
“What you have here at ICHS is really special. I feel genuinely grateful because I do not like doctors. I don’t trust them. But that is definitely shifting because of my experience here.” LL feels at home at ICHS, “This is the best medical care I have ever had. I feel like I’m with family. I like the diversity of people and languages. That’s what I grew up with.”
Mindful of the power of making one’s voice heard, LL has a message for lawmakers. Preserve affordable health care that allows people to benefit from health centers like ICHS, “Unless you’ve lived our experiences, you can’t make decisions about our lives. And if you have, try not to forget what that feels like.”