API women’s health advocate Veronica Kim retiring from ICHS

Veronica Kim, ICHS Women’s Preventative Health Services coordinator, is retiring after working many years with ICHS.

Women seek out Veronica Kim wherever she goes. She’s approached at church. People stop her on the street. She answers calls at all hours from women she’s never met, but who have heard she can help. As one of the Asian American community’s most trusted health advocates, Kim is used to fielding questions from unexpected places.

But soon, she will pass this torch to an up and coming generation of health workers.

Kim retires this month after more than two decades of service to International Community Health Services (ICHS), where she has spent her career working to level health disparities in breast, ovarian, cervical and colon cancer fatality rates among Asian Pacific Islander (API) and minority women.

Kim started as a family health worker for ICHS in 1993, when the regional health center was still a small clinic in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered funding for a program to increase breast cancer screenings for API immigrant women, Veronica was tasked with enrollment – knocking on doors to make home visits, going to churches and community organizations, and patiently waiting at neighborhood venues and businesses to talk to women.

Her impact upon King County’s women of color, and in particular the Asian American community, has been immeasurable. Her work formed the backbone of ICHS’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Health Program (BCCHP), which connected nearly 2,600 low income people with life-saving screenings and treatment in 2017. Kim also brought the Swedish Cancer Institute’s Mobile Mammography Program to ICHS in 2007 after discovering many women were not making it to their mammogram referrals. Bringing the mobile mammogram clinic direct to ICHS locations reduced a number of challenges for immigrant and low income women, giving help with scheduling, and reducing transportation and language barriers.

“There is no appropriate value that can be assigned to Veronica’s work within the community,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “When women and their families are scared and uncertain, unsure of where to turn or whom to trust, she is the breast health expert, and social and health service resource, and pillar of Seattle’s broader Asian American community.”

Kim was an early pioneer in addressing minority health within Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

“Many health education materials did not exist in languages other than English in those early years,” said Rana Amini, ICHS health advocacy manager. “Veronica created a library of resources from scratch so the women portrayed in pamphlets reflected the age and ethnicity of her target audiences. She ensured the availability of translation, interpretation and accurate information to empower ICHS patients to make informed, life-saving decisions about their health.”

Veronica also established in-language health fairs for the Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese-speaking communities – bringing health services directly to people within their communities, at no cost. She enrolled women in health insurance and programs for those that could not afford it.

Her work also became deeply personal. When she became a cancer patient and survivor herself, she became even more aware of the challenges faced by those she had served.

“My own experience with breast cancer treatment inspired me to give the best case management possible,” said Kim. “I have been through every step so I know what our patients are thinking and feeling.”

“Veronica inspires us all to do better,” said Ron Chew, ICHS foundation director. “I know very few people who are as optimistic and compassionate as she is. She has a warm smile and kind words to offer those around her.”

Veronica has also been an annual participant and major organizer of ICHS’s fundraising team for the Susan G. Komen Puget Sound Race for the Cure. For more than 15 years, she inspired a high level of participation among ICHS staff.

“Veronica put her heart and soul into building our women’s program,” said Batayola. “She’s changed some women’s lives forever. Because of her, Susan G. Komen has funded us close to 20 years, and continued to fund ICHS’s breast health program beyond their normal five-year cycle. She is one of a kind and I hope she continues to walk with us at Race for the Cure.”

Veronica says she doesn’t plan to leave all of her commitments behind.

“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such a wonderful, dedicated and amazing group of people for the past 25 years. During my tenure at ICHS I have learned so much. ICHS will always be a special place for me,” said Kim. “I’m excited about what’s ahead and plan to spend some time traveling. I leave soon for a trip to Korea and Hawaii. But even after retirement I will continue to advocate for and work with women.”

 

2018 National Health Center Week: Thank you ICHS heroes

NHCW 2018 at ICHS Bellevue Clinic

From Aug. 12 to 18, International Community Health Services marked National Health Center Week with celebrations that honored our health care heroes and their role making affordable health care available to people, families and communities throughout the region. ICHS looked to the past, present and future with a roundup of events.

A visit from Sharon Turner, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s Region X administrator, recognized ICHS’s achievements as one of the nation’s highest performing health centers. Her visit was part of an announcement of $125 million in awards to 1,352 community health centers nationally and $3.8 million to health centers in Washington state.

HRSA announcement at International Distric clinic during 2018 NHCW

Washington state senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray issued statements in support of the federal grants.

“Community health centers play a critical role in making sure patients and families across Washington state, and across the country, have access to quality health care — which is why we need to make sure these centers have the resources they need,” said Senator Murray. “I’m glad we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement earlier this year to help community health centers support and enhance the great work they already do to make sure patients and families in all corners of our country have quality care within reach regardless of income, and I hope we can continue to build on that progress.”

“Community health centers provide essential health care for many of Washington’s most vulnerable patients and communities,” said Senator Cantwell. “Many children and families throughout our state rely on community health centers for primary care, dental care, mental health and addiction services, and other important health needs. I’m proud to support our community health centers, and I’m glad we have secured more resources to foster innovation and deliver high-value care to families throughout Washington state.”

 

The installation of a historical exhibit in ICHS’s Shoreline Clinic gave a nod to the past and ICHS’s 45 years of history.

ICHS: Our Story historical exhibit at Shoreline Clinic, 2018ICHS: Our Story historical exhibit at the Shoreline Clinic, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community members were invited to join the celebration with fun games and activities, and voter registration at our clinics in Bellevue, Holly Park and the International District.

2018 NHCW at the international district clinicSigning up a voter, NHCW 2018

Thank you to the many staff, community members, partners and friends who made this year’s National Health Center Week a success!

Click here and here to see more photos and highlights.

ICHS recognized among nation’s highest performing health centers

International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced it is among 1,352 community health centers nationally that have been selected for $125 million in federal awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In issuing the grants, HRSA further recognized organizations exceeding national quality benchmarks as National Quality Leaders and those with the best overall clinical performance as Health Center Quality Leaders. ICHS was awarded both distinctions.

“ICHS’s consistently high quality care and outstanding clinical performance have earned a place of honor among Washington’s health centers. We have been named a Health Center Quality Leader every year since 2014, and a National Quality Leader in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “These awards are based on overall patient health data as a result of our care. We are proud of this record of achievement. ICHS is an example of the exceptional value our nation’s system of community health centers routinely deliver, providing comprehensive care at significantly lower cost to millions of Americans.”

HRSA’s Quality Improvement grant awards promote continued improvements in expanding access to comprehensive care, improving care quality and outcomes, increasing comprehensive care delivery in a cost-effective way, addressing health disparities, advancing the use of health information technology, and delivering patient-centered care. ICHS’s exceptional results and standards in seven out of eight of these categories led to a grant award of $249,174.

“Being a quality leader means that ICHS patients are more likely to achieve desired health outcomes,” said Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS medical director. “This points to the success our clinics are achieving across the life span from healthy pregnancies, well child care, and management of chronic conditions like diabetes. This grant will further ICHS’s efforts to widen access to high quality, affordable care among underserved communities and bring better health to greater numbers of the state’s residents.”

The award was announced at ICHS’s International District Clinic by Sharon Turner, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s Region X administrator, during National Health Center Week, the annual celebration that highlights the critical role community health centers play in providing high-quality, affordable, primary health care.

“I commend ICHS for being recognized as a National Quality Leader,” said Turner. “It’s a pleasure to be here and to celebrate HRSA’s partnership with ICHS and community health centers across the nation in providing high-quality, affordable primary care.”

For a list of 2018 Quality Improvement Award recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/qualityimprovement/index.html.

 

Roger Chiu retiring after 38 years: ICHS “just like my family”

Roger Chiu, a long-time fixture at International Community Health Services (ICHS), has decided to retire this month after 38 years of dedicated service as ICHS laboratory manager and medical technician. He will be moving to Irvine, California to live closer to his son and daughter and their families.

Chiu, a modest, low-key individual, started at ICHS in 1980 right after he graduated from Seattle University’s medical technology program. At the time, ICHS was located in a storefront on Maynard Avenue, across from Hing Hay Park. Bruce Miyahara was the executive director. Chiu’s first job title was medical technologist.

“ICHS was very small, Chiu said. “The lab was on the first floor. It was a tiny space, only room for one person. I was the only one there.”

Chiu said ICHS has gone through a remarkable transformation. When he started his job, the agency only had about 30 employees. “At first, we only used paper,” he said. “In 2005, ICHS purchased NextGen software. We began putting the lab results into our Laboratory Information System, which interfaced with the software. The providers could see results right away. That made a big difference.”

Chiu, 64, said he enjoyed being able to spend his entire career at ICHS. “I liked my job because I got to work with other laboratory staff and use my skills to benefit our patients. I got to work in the lab, work with others at ICHS and interact with patients. That was a good mix.”

Some ICHS patients would specifically ask for Chiu to do their lab tests. “Some of our patients I know them from when they were just a little baby and now they are much taller than me now,” he said “It’s my privilege to serve them.”

Chiu said he will miss his co-workers. “They are just like my family,” he said. “We laughed and argued just like one. Actually I spent more time with them than with my biological family.”

ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola described Chiu as a “pillar” and “part of the foundational fabric” of ICHS. “He helped bolster our staff’s spirits and well-being over the years with his unassuming good nature, humor and deep caring.  We are so grateful for all these years.”

Join ICHS in celebration of National Health Center Week

Join International Community Health Services (ICHS) in celebration of National Health Center Week, from Aug. 12 to 18. The national campaign, themed, “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes,” raises awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers, and the dedicated staff who bring health care to the medically underserved.

In 1973, ICHS opened as a small, volunteer-run storefront clinic in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, providing health services for low-income Filipino and Chinese elders and immigrant families.

“ICHS grew from the vision, grit and commitment of local community activists and leaders, who believed in meeting the need for affordable, skillful and culturally sensitive health care,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “From these humble origins, ICHS has grown to serve nearly 31,000 patients in 2017, representing 50 different language groups, at eight clinic locations.”

ICHS invites community members to help honor this legacy and ICHS’s role as part of a nationwide network of health centers that serve more than 27 million Americans. ICHS celebrations include:

  • Summer Cool Down at Holly Park clinic, Aug. 15, 11:30 am-1 pm. Cool summer refreshments and fun activities
  • Fun Fest at Bellevue clinic, Aug. 16, 10 am – 1 pm. Healthy activities, prizes and information for all people of all ages
  • Courtyard Celebration at International District clinic, Aug. 17, 10 am-1 pm. Something for everyone, children’s games, prizes, photo booth and more
  • ICHS: Our Story at the Shoreline clinic. Start of a historical exhibit honoring ICHS’s 45-year history in the 1st floor lobby. Learn more in a recent article in the International Examiner.

“The heroes who work at ICHS to make affordable health care possible for people in need – and their efforts as clinicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dentists and dental hygienists, behavioral health specialists, and much more – are at the center of this year’s National Health Center Week,” said Batayola.

Together, they produce innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in their communities. They reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address the factors that may cause sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and substance use disorders. It is their work that has helped reduce health care costs and reduce chronic disease, generating a record of success and along with it a long tradition of bipartisan support in Congress.

 

ICHS remembers Fred Yee

International Community Health Services offers its deepest condolences to the family of Fred Yee, former executive director and long-time board member of Kin On Health Care Center. Yee, who received the ICHS Bamboo Health Award in 2012, passed away at his home early Tuesday morning, Aug. 8 after an apparent heart attack. He was 67.

Yee received the Bamboo Health Award in recognition of his leadership in improving access to health services for Asians and Pacific Islanders in Washington state. In 1987, Kin On opened as the first bilingual Chinese nursing home in the Pacific Northwest.

“Fred’s passing is a very sad moment for many of us who’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with him,” said ICHS Foundation Director Ron Chew. “His bubbly upbeat attitude, unlimited passion for the community and commitment to serving the underserved were his greatest gifts. He was a wonderful role model and cherished friend. I will miss him deeply.”

Yee served as executive director of Kin On from 1988 to 1991. He remained active as a board member and chair after relinquishing the directorship to Sam Wan. Following his retirement, Yee served on the planning committee for a new partnership between ICHS and Kin On to develop a comprehensive health care and social service program for frail nursing home-eligible seniors, to be constructed on Beacon Hill in 2021.

Nigel Lo, Kin On CEO, said of Yee: “Fred was my trusted mentor and personal inspiration. His ideas, vision, and leadership was exemplified in the success of Kin On. His decades of experience, passion and dedication to serving our AAPI community were truly inspirational.”

A Celebration of Life will be held for Yee on Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to noon at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 8501SE 40th St., in Mercer Island. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Kin On Health Care Center, Chinese Information and Service Center or the Yee Fung Toy Family Association.

In memory of ICHS’s Duane Wald: 1953-2018

Since his hire in 2012, Duane Wald, ICHS construction representative, played an important role in all International Community Health Services’ (ICHS) construction and expansion projects. Wald, in particular, was instrumental in successfully building and launching the organization’s Bellevue, Shoreline and vision clinics, overseeing contractors and builders, from initial groundbreaking to opening day and beyond.

Wald passed away on July 12, leaving behind many colleagues and community members who will miss his resourceful and constant presence, and his dedicated work to keep the facilities at ICHS’s eight clinic locations in excellent condition and repair.

“Duane was hard to miss, the tallest guy at ICHS,” said Tim McDade, ICHS facilities supervisor. “If you saw him walking down the corridor of your clinic it usually meant something was getting fixed. He was extremely dedicated in his willingness to show up for work at any hour, day or night. During power outages he would help transfer vaccines between clinics. When a pipe froze and burst early in the morning, Duane was the first to show up.”

“Duane leaves behind many at ICHS who will miss him,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “Duane worked construction in Seattle for many years. He was with a large construction firm when he supervised the International District remodel in 2009. He was skeptical of community clinics but became curious about our impact on people. Then he came out of retirement to help ICHS build the Shoreline and Bellevue clinics. He loved ICHS and was fiercely protective of our sites. He was a huge part of the facility department.”

Wald is survived by his wife Zola, son Jerome and daughter Helki. Among his requests to friends and family was that they refrain from a memorial or donations, and remember him for his donation of his body to UW Medicine for research.

ICHS appoints Asqual Getaneh, MD as medical director

Minority health expert will address disparities among King County’s increasingly diverse residents

International Community Health Services (ICHS) today announced Asqual Getaneh, MD has been hired as medical director. Dr. Getaneh will oversee medical staff to ensure the continuous delivery of high quality, high impact care at ICHS’s eight medical clinics, located in Seattle, Bellevue and Shoreline.

Dr. Getaneh, who is Ethiopian American, speaks English, Spanish and Amharic, broadening her accessibility for ICHS patients and staff, who reflect a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. She has focused her career and research on improving health outcomes among minority, immigrant and refugee communities. Prior to her position with ICHS, Dr. Getaneh served as a medical director of a health center at Unity Health Care, the largest community health system in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Getaneh’s background in global and community health, combined with research and success improving health outcomes among minority and underserved populations will strengthen ICHS’s capacity to connect area residents to language accessible and culturally sensitive health services.” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO. “Her appointment reflects ICHS’s ongoing work to build greater health equity. I’m pleased to welcome her back to Seattle as we welcome her to ICHS.”

“I look forward to Dr. Getaneh’s impact as ICHS continues to add health services and grow capacity to reflect the area’s changing needs. Through her past work and research, she has insight, in particular, that will allow us to better evaluate and meet the needs of King County’s emerging East African and Latino populations,” said Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with diverse communities.”

Previously Dr. Getaneh served as an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and as an attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She continued her work in Washington, D.C., as an attending physician in internal medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and a research physician for MedStar Health Research Institute, where she focused on diabetes and hypertension research. Dr. Getaneh’s work, on topics ranging from the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension; diabetes control in Hispanics; and weight loss attempts among new immigrants, has been published in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of General Internal Medicine and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. She is a member of the American College of Physicians, the American Diabetes Association, the National Medical Association and the Society of General Internal Medicine. Dr. Getaneh has a medical degree and masters of public health from the University of Washington. She completed an internship in internal medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, where she also completed a residency in primary care internal medicine. While in New York, she studied nutrition at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

ICHS clinics lead in protecting kids against disease

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.