The International Community Health Service (ICHS) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 28 to celebrate the expansion of the ICHS Bellevue Medical and Dental Clinic. The new space will be used to provide behavioral health and substance use disorder services for ICHS patients living in the Eastern District.
This expansion enhances ICHS’s ability to combine these services with medical services to provide holistic care.
With the participation of elected officials from Washington State, King County Council and Bellevue, this small face-to-face event celebrated the expansion and promoted the importance of affordable and accessible behavioral health services in comprehensive care.
“The Bellevue Clinic is the smallest of our clinics that provide multiple services, but it is very powerful,” said Teresita Batayola, President and CEO of ICHS. “Last year, we were the first medical center in the country to have a positive case of COVID. This is not a difference we like, but it is a difference we are proud of because before the CDC guidelines, our medical team and our leadership The team discovered that it was COVID, and they appropriately protected themselves and their employees so that we could actually handle the first COVID-positive patient.”
Batayola shared that immigrants and refugees have been both affected by the federal exclusion policy in the past few years and the mental health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vulnerable groups that have been affected also face barriers to access to behavioral health, from language barriers to lack of culturally competent providers to stigma.
“Even before this expansion, there were great concerns about behavioral health,” Batayola said. “But the pandemic has made this need even more urgent. The need for behavioral health is so high that we are very concerned about our population, not just our children, but people of all ages. Therefore, we really want to thank the 48th The work of legislators in Districts 41, 45, and Districts. They successfully manipulated the maze of legislation and awarded ICHS $1.6 million to create this space for much-needed behavioral health and substance use disorder services.”
The ICHS clinic in Bellevue provides health services in multiple languages. It also provides substance use disorder services to address the opioid crisis, including drug-assisted treatment. According to the US Census, Bellevue’s Asian population exceeds 35%.
The ICHS Bellevue Medical and Dental Clinic is located in the Crossroads community and currently serves more than 5,800 patients. When the patient arrives for an appointment, the ICHS primary care provider will notify the patient that they have a behavioral health provider as part of their care team and how their behavioral health affects their physical health.
“Providing behavioral health services is an integral part of a person’s health, not an optional service,” said Randon Aea, ICHS Behavioral Health Manager. During the event, he and Bellevue Health Center manager Kia Truong visited the expanded clinic space to the elected officials.
State Representative Amy Walen and State Senator Patty Kuderer are the state government’s main sponsors of funding the Bellevue Clinic’s expansion.
“I think if this epidemic shows us something, it shows us that mental health is very important. It is an integral part of physical health,” Kudler said at the ceremony. “In this country for too long, we have neglected the mental health of citizens. What have we seen? We have seen an increase in the number of suicides. We have seen an increase in domestic violence. We have seen an increase in the use and abuse of opioids. These things did not happen in a vacuum. They happened because we didn’t pay attention. They happened because we didn’t put resources where they needed to be. One of the best investments we can make to the people of the state is theirs medical insurance.”
During the celebration, Claudia Balducci, the former Mayor of Bellevue and chair of the King County Council, talked about ICHS’s work in advocating for the community, despite the perception that there are no health differences in the Eastern District.
“Of all the wealth and economic vitality of the East Side, it is often forgotten,” Barducci said.
“But ICHS knows that there is a need in the Eastern District.… ICHS is more than just a health clinic. When it is clear that the launch of the vaccine has not reached those who will be able to reach the most dangerous people, those most in need, and those who are often out of service— -Some of our more diverse communities-places-Teresita [Batayola] And ICHS are some of the loudest voices, saying this is not good. We have to do better, they keep pushing until we do it. Therefore, you are also a strong advocate and advocate for your patients and our community. “