By Minal Singh
Northwest Asian Weekly
International Community Health Services (ICHS) provides health care services throughout the Seattle region. They focus on underserved communities, especially immigrants and refugees, for whom they provide culturally sensitive, affordable medical care.
The Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program (BCCHP) is an important initiative by ICHS. BCCHP provides free breast, cervical, and colon cancer screenings. Community advocate Mihn Nguyen-Wichman reaches out to people who may not be aware that this program exists, such as people new to the country or those whose first language is not English. Her job involves educating members of the Asian community about the importance of early cancer screening and prevention.
“No one will be turned away,” said Nguyen-Wichman. The goal of the BCCHP is to empower the community with knowledge about healthcare and how to talk to their doctor. Vietnamese women, particularly, says Nguyen-Wichman, are advised to get early screenings for cervical cancer. She works at breaking down the fears and other language or cultural barriers that keep women from prioritizing their health. Early prevention is the key to the process.
Abbie Zahler, health advocacy manager, explains that ICHS has 32 staff members who are certified to help the uninsured apply for Obamacare. The center has computers. A new client can leave ICHS having filled out an insurance application. For other healthcare services, sliding scales are available based on a client’s income. ICHS is committed to the health of the Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Mien, Pacific Islander, and Vietnamese communities they serve. Clinic brochures provide information in six different languages. Fifty languages and dialects are represented in the clinic, and the staff act as cultural navigators to help with doctor-patient communication.
In addition to breast and cervical cancer screenings, the center provides on-site mammograms. Colon cancer screenings are recommended for both men and women. The BCCHP program is funded by King County and even undocumented immigrants are eligible for the screenings. Case managers will remain with the client throughout the prevention and treatment process. (end)
ICHS is located at 720 8th Avenue South in the International District. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. More information is available at www.ichs.com or 206-788-3671.