KCTS 9’s Hidden Barriers is a video series that explores the issues around bias, prejudice, and discrimination in our health care systems and the stakeholders attempting to change that.
In the latest episode “Medicine’s Poor Reflection,” ICHS’s Dr. Jessica Guh talks about why diversity is so important among WA doctors and health care providers.
The episode “Health Care’s invisible minority” explores how the model minority myth impacts API health and perpetuates health inequalities. ICHS’ Dr. Jessica Guh describes the disaggregation of data on Asian Americans as one of the most important issues for API health in the U.S.
The episode “Lost in Translation” featured ICHS interpreter Yvone Ung. She shared how her past struggles in navigating health care in the U.S. as a refugee from Cambodia inspires her work with the community at ICHS today.
Participants from across the country joined together to raise money for free and low-cost health services for International Community Health Services patients.
ICHS Foundation raised $38,736 in the first-ever Lunar New Year Virtual 5k last week. Over 350 participants ran and walked courses of their own choosing, while practicing social distancing in this experimental fundraising event for ICHS Foundation. All the proceeds will fund free and low-cost health services for ICHS patients who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
Running together, safely apart
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events have been cancelled to decrease the spread of the virus. At the same time, many ICHS patients have lost health insurance at a time when access to health services are paramount. In order to continue this year’s Lunar New Year 5k to support our patients in a way that would keep participants safe, the planning committee pivoted to a new event format – a virtual 5k.
A new experience
As a virtual event, the Lunar New Year Virtual 5k was planned to provide flexibility for participants to run safely. Rather than a set course on a specific day, participants completed their 5k runs or walks along the course of their own choosing throughout the week. Some participants took a walk in their local neighborhoods, others ran along the old race course on the Interurban Trail in Shoreline, and others completed trail runs in Grand Canyon, Arizona.
The event reached two milestones. The first being the widest age range with participants age 1 to 93 joining in the event. The other, being the most wide-reaching participation ever for ICHS Foundation with participants running in 15 states!
To continue the camaraderie and celebration, the virtual 5k also connected with the community on social media. Participants shared selfies and course photos wearing their event t-shirts and using the hashtag #ICHSLNY5k. ‘Running together, safely apart’ became the central message of the race as social media pages filled with photos of participants sharing in their commitment to the cause and completion of the race.
As our communities continue to be resilient through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this February has also been a time of hope as ICHS has continued to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to our most vulnerable. Despite the challenges we all face together, ICHS Foundation continues to bring together the community to support the mission of health equity and access for ICHS patients.
We look forward to seeing you next year – the Year of the Tiger!
We extend our gratitude to our generous 2021 Lunar New Year Virtual 5k sponsors:
On Dec. 23, International Community Health Services (ICHS) was among the first of the area’s health centers to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and begin vaccinating frontline health workers.
Reactions were jubilant, as staff saw the end of a challenging year and the nation’s largest health crisis, come into sight.
“The shot has no pain at all for me,” said Ping Yang, acupuncturist, first to be delivered the vaccine at the International District Clinic. “At last I don’t have to worry, because I’m seeing patients every time and no one knows who is carrying what. The vaccine is good for me, my family, my community and hopefully I can visit my parents, they are 97 years old.
Community members can be confident that the vaccine is safe and that it works, said Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS chief medical officer. “I enthusiastically rolled up my sleeve to be vaccinated and urge everyone to do the same. It is the best way to look out for yourself, your family and your community. I will now be able to spend Christmas with my 89-year-old father with additional protection and without great anxiety. This is how we stop people from dying and return to normal life.”
The vials of the Moderna vaccine are a milestone in ending the pandemic. Initial supplies will be limited and given to groups at highest risk, such as health care workers and people in long-term care facilities, said Getaneh. The next priority groups will be essential workers with higher risk of exposure, adults with underlying health conditions and adults 65 years and older. Eventually there will be enough for everyone who wants a vaccination. She urged patience, as well as offered a reminder there will still be a need to wear a mask, maintain distancing and practice good hygiene for some time.
In February 2020, ICHS was the first community health center in the nation to see a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. As a result, ICHS has helped set best practices guiding the response of the nation’s nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers, which collectively serve 30 million people, most of them low income, immigrants and refugees.
Visit the DOH Prioritization Guidance Webpage to check vaccine eligibility. Eligible ICHS patients, call 206-788-3700 to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment today. If you are not an ICHS patient, please don’t contact our call center. Your appointment must be made online.
Thank you for your interest in the COVID-19 vaccine.
Due to a limited — but growing — supply, the vaccine is being rolled out in phases starting with those most at risk for COVID-19 infection. An organized and equitable distribution of a vaccine is the first step to getting the pandemic under control. ICHS is working with public health and community partners to ensure we get as many doses as possible to as many people as possible.
Vaccine appointments are currently for eligible for anyone who lives or works in Washington State. ICHS is offering COVID-19 appointments to people 18+.
We each have a responsibility to ensure that those around us are protected and we help reduce COVID-19 transmission by being vaccinated. This is the only way we can halt the pandemic and ensure the health of our family members, friends and neighbors.
You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you’ve been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.
Our state’s timeline
The DOH has released a timeline that will help you understand which priority group you belong to and when it will be your turn to get the vaccine. This timeline is just an estimate and could change based on state and federal vaccine supplies. See the estimated timeline.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved by the FDA work similarly. They cause the body to develop antibodies (fighter cells). A genetic code of a small part of the virus (the spike protein) is injected into the body; this is taken up by cells, which reproduce the protein. These are then recognized by the body as foreign proteins. The fighter cells work to get rid of the proteins, while creating a memory bank of these proteins to defend against future infection.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works differently than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A piece of genetic material from the virus’ spike protein is added into another virus. The modified virus enters a cell to put its DNA into the nucleus and give instructions to other cells. Your body reacts by producing antibodies. Your immune system cells then remember how to fight the virus.
The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA, Pfizer and Moderna, both require two shots. The first shot starts building protection. The second one acts as a “booster” to give the most protection. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires just one shot.
Not getting a vaccination is more than an individual choice, it has a much wider impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing. It will make it harder to achieve herd immunity, a level of immunity that will prevent the virus from circulating in the community, and protect us all. Without immunization, you place yourself at greater risk of severe illness or long-term health issues from COVID-19. When you get the vaccine, you also help protect people in high-risk groups that might not be able to get vaccinated themselves.
Please bring a photo ID with your date of birth. You will not be turned away if you don’t have an ID. If you have health insurance, bring a copy of your insurance card. Please wear a short-sleeved shirt or clothing with sleeves that can be rolled up.
ICHS is following the CDC and FDA recommendation for a pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. ICHS continues to work with public health and community partners to administer Moderna vaccines to protect patients and community members.
Vaccine safety is a priority. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through a rigorous and multi-step testing and approval process before they can be used. They will only be approved if they pass safety and effectiveness standards. Many people took part in this testing to see how the vaccines offer protection to people of different ages, races and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.
The CDC and FDA recommending a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. This pause in administering the Janssen vaccine reflects an ongoing process to keep safety as a top priority when it comes to all COVID-19 vaccines.
Your arm may be sore, red or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle and joint pain. This is a natural response and a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is expected to do. It is working to build protection to disease. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.
COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. However, it does take time, and more people need to be vaccinated before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. That is why safety monitoring will continue by an independent group of experts with the CDC. They will provide regular safety updates for our immediate action.
Over 6.8 million American have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it’s proven to be a very safe and effective vaccine in preventing severe and fatal cases of COVID-19. You should expect to have side effects such as soreness in the arm, fever and a headache.
However, you should look out for these symptoms: a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination. Contact your health care provider if you experience these.
No, the vaccine will not cause the COVID-19 illness. The vaccine is made up of only a part of the virus (the spike protein), just enough for the body to recognize as a foreign material to produce antibodies. For this reason, the vaccination cannot create a false positive COVID-19 test.
No, while the vaccine is made of a genetic material, it does not interact with the genome. It encodes for specific proteins (in this case the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus), which then gets decoded by the ribosome (protein making organelle/part of a cell) located outside of the nucleus where our genome is housed. mRNA in the cell is also degraded relatively quickly limiting long-lasting impact.
Yes, you can receive COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the clinical trials, experts support vaccination to prevent infection. Read here and here to learn more.
If you have had an immediate allergic reaction — even if it was not severe — to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe. If you have a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, which both require two doses, the CDC advises against getting the second dose. The CDC also recommends that people who are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not get a COVID-19 vaccine.
People with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies — should get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.
We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.
You will still need to practice precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures until many more people are vaccinated. This is because there’s still a chance you could pass the virus to someone else even though you don’t get sick yourself.
Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally and scientists are working to learn more about them. The current vaccines were designed around earlier versions of coronavirus, but scientists believe they should still work against new variants, although perhaps not quite as well.
We can expect variants to continue to emerge in the future as the virus evolves. Efforts are now underway to redesign the current vaccines to be a better match. In the future, we may need a new COVID-19 shot each year like we do with flu immunizations, to account for any changes in circulating viruses.
If you’ve had COVID-19, you have natural immunity that may last months to years but is not indefinite. People who have had COVID-19 are advised to get the vaccine because they could still be reinfected and could still possibly infect someone else.
Both the vaccines from Pfizer and from Moderna have two doses. After only one shot your protection might be around 50%. The second shot provides a boost that gives strong, long-lasting immunity. After both shots, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have 94% and 95% efficacy, respectively.
It will take about a week after the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for you to have the vaccine’s full protection. You will have full protection from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine one week after your shot.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently approved by the FDA require two shots to be fully effective. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot. The CDC says your second shot can be scheduled up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first and remain effective. If a delay occurs, there is no need to repeat the first shot again.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both work well, offering strong protection after two shots and over 90% protective across age groups and racial and ethnic groups. A third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson has been shown to offer strong protection but was paused nationwide by the CDC and FDA as of April 13 to examine data of reported six cases of adverse events. These six cases represent a fraction of a percent of the 6.8 million people in the United States who have received the Janssen vaccine.
The evidence is clear — you should get the first vaccine available to you instead of waiting for a particular one. This is the best way to protect yourself, as well as everyone else. Immunizing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, will help us to reduce overall COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
A study suggesting the Pfizer vaccine was less effective among Asian Americans did not have not enough people participating from within those groups to give data for a firm conclusion. There is no reason to believe that any one vaccine is less effective among Asians and NHPI, AIAN or multiracial groups.
You should follow CDC guidelines once you are fully vaccinated. Continue taking precautions in public places by wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often. To learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others once you’ve been fully vaccinated, visit the CDC website here.
Now you can enroll, renew or change your health plan through Washington HealthplanFinder. There are more plans to chose from, including a new, affordable health plan option called Cascade Care. Take time to compare plans as you may qualify for a low-cost one.
Nov. 1 – Open enrollment begins
Dec. 15 – Last day to register for a health plan that begins Jan. 2021
Jan. 15 – Last day to register for a health plan that begins Feb. 2021
ICHS provides free help to our patients and for anyone seeking to enroll or renew their health insurance. Schedule an appointment with one of our multilingual outreach and enrollment navigators. They can explain your health plan options and assist you with enrolling.
Our staff speak languages including: Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Toisanese), Korean, Russian, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese.
Call (206) 788-3700to schedule an appointment. We are only accepting appointments by phone.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit nursing home residents it has drawn attention to the benefits of the nation’s PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) programs, which allow frail seniors to “age in place” in their own home instead of a nursing home. Enrolled seniors are safer from infection because they are supported to thrive at home.
When COVID-19 began spreading in King County, “PACE made a series of quick and abrupt decisions,” said Dr. Kannie Chim, ICHS PACE medical director. After weeks of declining visits, on March 9, in the interest of patient safety, Legacy House closed group activities. “The team had to pivot to reaching people through other means.”
Staff made weekly phone calls to check on participants’ and share information. Knowing that many lacked safe transportation options, PACE staff began delivering food coordinated by PACE dietitians so participants could continue sheltering in place. The PACE team also increased home visits to ensure seniors received the care they needed to stay healthy.
“Doctors, physical therapists, nurses, almost everyone comes to your home to check on you,” said Janet. “I’ve had home safety checks and they are very careful.”
PACE staff also taught Janet how to connect to telehealth services. “Everyone in the program is motivated and responsive to patients,” she said. “I like it, especially during this difficult period.”
Healthy aging at home
PACE programs are individually designed for each participant and managed by a team. Care is interdisciplinary—a social needs analysis and investigation into individual health barriers are part of the program. Care is culturally competent, able to meet participant needs with respect to cultural traditions, language and preferences. The goal is to allow individuals to safely live in their community for as long as possible. When that is no longer feasible, PACE can coordinate transitions that keep the participant centered in his or her care.
“It’s team-based,” said Dr. Chim. “At PACE, we say ‘Let us take all of this and put it under one roof and take care of it. Let us help, we are going to coordinate this.’”
Mei and her husband live in the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) neighborhood of Seattle. Before the pandemic, PACE drivers would pick up Mei’s husband three times a week and take him to ICHS Legacy House for medical care, physical therapy and activities. The couple continue to live in their C-ID apartment while Mei’s husband receives the primary care he needs, staying connected to multiple services to help keep him healthy.
PACE team members include doctors, therapists, nutritionists, drivers, behavioral health specialists, social workers and administrative staff to coordinate an individualized care plan.
Many ICHS PACE participants take part in adult day services and social activities at ICHS Legacy House. They may also receive care within their own home that ranges from therapy and medical visits, to meal deliveries and home safety assessments.
To be eligible for PACE, participants must be 55 or older and in need of nursing home level of care as defined by Washington state.
Most participants “join the PACE program needing a little help,” explained Dr. Chim. “You are living at home and can get around and still do your daily activities, but you are just getting by. We want to help participants not only survive, but thrive.”
Setting the PACE ahead
During the pandemic, long-term care facilities have been especially vulnerable to outbreaks of COVID-19. Seniors face compounding challenges, including heightened risk of infection, transportation barriers, limited access to telehealth and other difficulties.
“Offering well-coordinated, community-based health care, socialization and living support is a priority throughout this pandemic and in the future,” commented Teresita Batayola, ICHS President & CEO. “For us, PACE is the future.”
ICHS, in partnership with Kin On Health Care Center (Kin On), is taking a bold step to create a better future for elders. Established in 2015, the partnership, called Aging in PACE Washington (AiPACE), will pioneer the nation’s first aging-in-place program for the Asian Pacific Islander community. A $20 million capital campaign is underway to create a 25,000-square-foot PACE center on the north lot of Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill.
Getting your flu shot is more important now than ever. Call 206.788.3700
The Washington State Department of Health strongly recommends everyone get vaccinated to avoid serious illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is likely that both COVID-19 and the flu will be circulating at the same time. By getting the flu shot, you help keep our communities healthy because you are lowering the chance of exposure for the people around you, especially those who are unable to get the flu shot themselves.
Stop by one of our pharmacies
If you are between the ages of 19 and 64, come to the pharmacy during regular business hours at our International District, Holly Park and Shoreline clinics. Walk-ins accepted. Appointments are encouraged. Make an appointment by calling the pharmacy:
Holly Park: 206-788-3563
International District: 206-788-3708
SEE a primary care provider
Ask about getting a flu shot during your next visit or schedule a separate time to come in. New patients are always welcome.
We’re here to help make it safe and easy
No cost for kids and with most insurance
All children in Washington may receive flu vaccines, and other recommended vaccines, at no cost through age 18. Flu vaccine is a covered benefit provided at no cost every year through most insurance plans for adults over the age of 18, and is covered by Medicare part B.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) is among health centers nationwide to be recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with quality improvement awards totaling more than $117 million.
The awards recognize the highest performing health centers as well as those that have made significant quality improvements from the previous year.
ICHS received a grant award of nearly $160,000 and was recognized as a Health Center Quality Leader for achieving the best overall clinical performance among all health centers. HRSA has named ICHS a Health Center Quality Leader every year since 2014.
ICHS was also awarded as a Clinical Quality Improver for demonstrating at least 15% improvement for each quality measure from the previous year. ICHS’s use of technology to help patients access high quality care and its team-based approach were also recognized with awards in the Advancing Health Information Technology and Patient Centered Medical Home Recognition categories.
Federally qualified health centers provide primary care services for underserved communities through funds from the HRSA Health Center Program. They deliver care to about one in 11 people nationwide who are low-income, uninsured or face obstacles to getting health care, HRSA Administrator Tom Engles said in a statement. “These awards will support health centers as they continue to be a primary medical home for communities around the country,” he said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers have been on the frontlines, providing more than 3 million tests, according to HHS. “These quality improvement awards support health centers across the country in delivering care to nearly 30 million people, providing a convenient source of quality care that has grown even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These awards help ensure that all patients who visit a HRSA-funded health center continue to receive the highest quality of care, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.”
International Community Health Services (ICHS) helped highlight the value of the nation’s health centers during National Health Center Week, an annual national celebration to raise public awareness and legislative support, held from Aug. 9 to 15.
Staff, patients and state lawmakers joined ICHS to observe this year’s theme, “Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future,” which honored frontline providers, staff and patients who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a series of virtual meetings with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA9), Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA8) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA1), ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola shared the innovative steps ICHS has taken to address the needs of the community in the face of extraordinary challenges. She underscored the urgent call for Congress to act to secure reauthorization of mandatory funding for community health centers by October.
“Our sustainability is being threatened as we bring great value,” said Batayola. “Community health centers are critical in ensuring access to health care and information, outreach and engagement. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but especially for people who have low incomes or have lost their jobs or health insurance.”
After King County emerged as an early epicenter of the health crisis in March, ICHS quickly responded with new models of care, including telehealth and in-home visits, prescription deliveries, drive-thru testing sites and testing targeted to specific populations. ICHS has also served as a strong voice in advocating against anti-Asian stigma and bias.
ICHS has struggled with PPE shortages and decreased demand for primary care and preventative services, as patients shelter at home and avoid in-person health visits out of fear. This has led to reduced revenue. An infusion of federal funding – both emergency and long-term – is critical if ICHS and the nation’s community health centers are to continue to meet need and demand.
“It’s a really important thing to have health care access for everyone,” said Beth Weitensteiner, assistant medical director at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic. Weitensteiner joined other ICHS staff members, patients and board members to express gratitude for ICHS and its promise of affordable health care in a series of YouTube videos celebrating National Health Center Week. “Clinics like ours are the clinics that are on the front line, making sure that everyone has affordable, good access to health care.”
National Health Center Week festivities also included staff appreciation lunches and patient appreciation events at ICHS’s full-service clinics in the International District, Holly Park, Bellevue and Shoreline. Check out highlights here on Flickr.