Congressman Adam Smith visits ICHS to hear API community concerns following the Covid-19 epidemic

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L-R: Michael Byun, executive director at Asian Counseling & Referral Service, Teresita Batayola, CEO and President at ICHS, Maiko Winkler-Chin, executive director at Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, Congressman Adam Smith, Ron Chew, foundation executive director at ICHS, Nigel Lo, CEO at KinOn, and Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS chief medical officer. Photo by Rick Wong.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9) visited the International Community Health Services (ICHS) medical-dental clinic in the Chinatown-International District on March 6, to address the impacts Covid-19, also known as the coronavirus, is having on the local Asian Pacific Islander community. The congressman joined Teresita Batayola. ICHS CEO, Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS chief medical officer, and leaders from several neighboring nonprofits, including Maiko Winkler-Chin, executive director at Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, Michael Byun, executive director at Asian Counseling & Referral Service, and Nigel Lo, CEO at KinOn.

One of the key topics of discussion was how community health service providers are faring amid the outbreak. ICHS has been proactively working with public health officials in Public Health — Seattle & King County and staff of the County Executive and Seattle Mayor’s office to coordinate its response and to educate the public on personal hygiene and social distancing to decrease the risk of transmission.

“Local and state health workers across Washington are working around the clock to combat the coronavirus outbreak and I thank them for their lifesaving efforts,” said Rep. Smith.

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Community members discuss efforts to address Covid-19 with Rep. Adam Smith. Photo by Rick Wong.

Community leaders also discussed concerns regarding the impact on Asian-owned businesses and workers, as well as more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly. They reported an increase in anti-Asian bias and xenophobia, and shared suggestions on how the congressman and others in government could offer their support and additional resources.

“It is critical that members of the community follow guidance of health experts and avoid misinformation about coronavirus,” said. Rep. Smith. “Misinformation has led to the stigmatization of those of Asian descent based on fear and xenophobia – this is a danger to the wellbeing of our communities and to public health. We must remain unified and vigilant at this critical time to combat this epidemic and to uphold our resilient and diverse communities. I applaud ICHS, ACRS, Kin On, and other community partners for their dedication to protecting the health and wellbeing of all of our community members.”

“We appreciate Congressman Adam Smith’s longtime support – he is a strong ally as we work to address the challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak together,” said Batayola. “His visit today offered a valuable chance to discuss his impact and how we can work collectively to keep our local community members safe and healthy, and help reduce the misinformed racist stigma against Asian Americans.”

ICHS announces medical and operations leaders

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On left, Rachel Koh, ICHS chief operating officer and on right, Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS chief medical officer.

 

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.