International Community Health Services (ICHS) announces leadership promotions that reflect an up-and-coming generation of community health leaders from within the organization. Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS medical director, is named chief medical officer in charge of all of ICHS medical care. Rachel Koh, vice president of pharmacy and business development, is the new chief operating officer.
“Dr. Asqual Getaneh and Rachel Koh are strong leaders steeped in community health,” said Teresita Batayola, ICHS president and CEO. “We are excited that their vision, energy and knowledge will help us sustain patient-centered care that meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve.”
Dr. Getaneh has served as ICHS medical director since 2018. Prior to her position with ICHS, she was a medical director at Unity Health Care, the largest community health system in Washington, D.C. An expert in global health and research to improve health equity among minority populations, Dr. Getaneh was previously an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and practiced internal medicine for more than 20 years for organizations including New York Presbyterian Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Health Research Institute.
Dr. Getaneh was specifically recruited by Dr. Rayburn Lewis, ICHS chief medical officer, to succeed him. Dr. Lewis will take on a new assignment as medical leader for the ICHS Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a Medicaid/Medicare program to help those who are nursing-home-eligible to age in place with a comprehensive suite of health care, socialization and transportation services.
Since 2018, Koh has overseen the operation of three ICHS pharmacies, including the successful rollout of advanced technology applications and the delivery of services to boost patient access to high quality treatments and medication. Previously, she served as vice president of clinical product strategy for ZeOmega, where she helped develop new product and market strategies. Prior to that, Koh was the associate vice president of pharmacy services for Community Health Plan of Washington. Koh has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical and health care leadership experience.
John Foz, ICHS board member, spoke on behalf on ICHS in recognition of Ko Fisher’s contributions and long years of service. “I served close to a decade with Jan on the board development committee,” he said. “I remember that, after Jan had suffered a stroke and was in rehabilitation, she phone-conferenced into the committee meetings. More often than not, it was Jan’s keen eye that caught something that needed attention, or that we had missed. To me, that was a testimony to the attention to detail Jan brought to the table, and her utmost care.” (Read a transcript of Foz’s full remarks here.)
Ko Fisher passed away on December 7, 2018. She was the longest serving board member in ICHS’s history, filling that role since 1975.
She graduated from the University of Washington in 1971 with a medical technologist degree. Ko Fisher had worked as clinical laboratory scientist at Seattle Children’s Hospital for many years, starting in 2001. She had been recruited to the cause by Dr. Allen Muramoto, another activist and founder honored by the ICHS Foundation in 2017.
One lasting legacy Ko Fisher leaves behind is her active involvement helping ICHS create a brand-new 40,000 sq. ft. medical and dental clinic in Shoreline in 2014. She served as co-chair of the fundraising steering committee.
In 2018, Ko Fisher was honored at ICHS’s 45th anniversary Bloom Gala with a Sapphire Award, recognizing her extraordinary leadership.
In 2011, she received the Ethel Bond Memorial Consumer Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Ko Fisher was interviewed in 2008 for a 35th anniversary documentary project for ICHS. She recalled the early years when the clinic was an all-volunteer operation on North Beacon Hill, serving patients out of a donated medical office. Ko Fisher was responsible for opening the clinic in the evening. She got the keys from her parents, who lived across the street “It wasn’t like swarms of patients coming to our doors,” she recalled, “but we offered rides from the International District. We offered free transportation. It was targeted toward the elderly in the hotels.”
“She was such a sensitive, sweet, happy person,” said Jon Nakagawara, ICHS co-founder and ICHS’s first director. “I’ll always treasure that memory of her personality.”
“She was one of the first people I met when I got involved with ICHS in the early days. She was one of the originals,” said Bruce Miyahara former ICHS co-founder and former director. “She was an inspiration because she stuck with it for so many years. That’s true dedication. Very quiet, but so committed.”
In a later interview, Ko Fisher said she was inspired by the ICHS mission of service to the community and providing quality affordable care to underserved populations. “I can’t believe how much ICHS has grown from that small free weekly clinic on Beacon Hill. It’s given me great satisfaction to be part of this.
“With much pride, I’ve watched this health clinic grow from a small storefront space into a multi-clinic agency. I’ve been here like a proud parent through all the growing pains and triumphs.”
Teresita Batayola, ICHS CEO, reacted to the news of Ko Fisher’s passing with sadness: “She was our direct connection to ICHS’s past. She represented our soul. She was always quietly supportive, always there and deeply proud of ICHS.”
Hiroshi Nakano, a long-time ICHS board member, added. “Jan was a low-key, consistent, committed board member who was devoted to the cause of serving our patients. She will be missed by all of us.”
After completing her nurse practitioner program, Megan Wilbert wanted additional training that would help her more confidently care for patients. Wilbert’s feelings are not uncommon – and driving interest in residencies as the future of nurse practitioner training.
“Your learning is a lot more accelerated than an MD and you have no residency with the exception of clinicals, which can vary,” said Wilbert, ARNP at International Community Health Services (ICHS) clinic in Shoreline. “I’m so grateful I did it. It’s a huge transition to suddenly be responsible for patients.”
Wilbert doesn’t just work at ICHS, she was also part of the first cohort of participants in the community health clinic’s ARNP residency program, now in its fifth year and the first to be accredited in the U.S. It prepares newly licensed and certified nurse practitioners for careers as primary care providers in a community health setting. It was pioneered by ICHS provider DoQuyen Huynh, ARNP, DNP, who was named 2016 Washington state American Association of Nurse Practitioner of the Year for her work.
“ICHS’s unique population of immigrants and refugees made it the perfect place to develop and evolve this program,” says Huynh, who serves as the program’s director. “Each year, we’ve made changes to the curriculum to meet individual resident needs. We are viewed as a leader and many programs in the region mirror ICHS’s curriculum.”
Kelli Hiraoka, ARNP, immediately felt a connection. “I recall visiting ICHS on my interview and feeling inspired by the staff and workplace,” she said. “Each day is unpredictable, exciting and stimulating. You might be inserting a nexplanon procedure for contraception, managing an insulin-dependent diabetic, investigating why that six-month old kiddo has a persistent fever, or telling your female patient she’s finally pregnant after six months of trying. Or you could be helping a patient with heart failure who does not take his meds due to financial constraints, or an adolescent struggling with self harm and suicidal ideation.”
Participants credit Huynh’s leadership and the program’s high quality as selling points. Ongoing structure and support are built into the curriculum, which offers a ramp up schedule, continual education with weekly didactics and exposure to different clinical specialties. Each cohort is responsible for developing a population-focused solution to a current health challenge. Past projects led to the creation of ICHS’s Young Adult Center, the first teen health center in Shoreline, and a video storytelling initiative.
“I absolutely loved the residency and feel like it has prepared me well for the transition into independent practice. The ability to have dedicated preceptors, with decades of primary care experience was critical in my development as a clinician and has given me a strong footing for working in the challenging world of community health,” said Dan Gundry, ARNP, fourth cohort participant. “The entire team at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic is incredibly warm and welcoming, so I felt at home right away. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and would highly recommend it.”
ICHS also provides tools for building a sustainable career. Participants are taught how to manage the behind-the-scenes work of a provider. Wilbert recalls ICHS providers coaching her cohort on efficiency and clinic flow, and how to develop better charting, diagnostics and lab management skills.
“I see other colleagues who didn’t get a residency and there tends to be a high level of burnout,” said Maura Carroll, ARNP, DNP, a participant in ICHS’s second cohort. “It gave me a solid skill set and supported my professional goals in community health.”
ICHS’s ARNP program residents are scheduled to work together. “I loved the cohort I worked with,” Wilbert said. “It was awesome to have two other people to bounce ideas off of and support you. Going through the experience side-by-side is extremely helpful.”
Many of ICHS’s ARNP residency program participants have opted to stay on at ICHS after graduation.
“ICHS used to have a difficult time recruiting providers, including nurse practitioners. Since the residency, we’ve been able to fill all vacancies,” said Huynh. “We have the added confidence of knowing residents are well prepared to provide holistic care to our diverse and complex patient population.”
As ICHS continues to invest a future pipeline of qualified health professionals, Huynh would like to expand the program to include physician assistants, and to offer consultation and support for regional programs from other organization.
The open enrollment period to enroll, renew or change health plans through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange starts on Nov. 1 and ends on Dec. 15 for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Unless you qualify for Apple Health or a special enrollment period due to a qualifying event you must be enrolled to ensure there is no interruption in your health benefits and to avoid a year-long wait until the next open enrollment period in the fall of 2020.
FREE help from ICHS ICHS provides free help for patients and for anyone seeking to enroll or renew health insurance. Plan ahead and schedule an appointment with one of our multilingual outreach and enrollment navigators, who can explain your options and assist with sign up. ICHS staff speak languages including: Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Toishanese), Eritrean, Hindi, Korean, Russian , Spanish, Punjabi, Tagalog and Vietnamese,
ICHS will offer walk-in appointments on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturdays at the ICHS International District Clinic (2nd floor) from 9 am to 3 pm. Come see us for help from a qualified navigator on the below dates:
To make an open enrollment appointment or for more information Call ICHS at: 206-788-3700 or find enrollment information online at: https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org. You can also call or walk into any of our four full service clinics in Seattle, Shoreline and Bellevue.