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ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

By now you have probably heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, seen a few of your friends take the challenge, or perhaps have even taken it yourself. It’s certainly a fun way to promote awareness around ALS, however many are getting caught up in the hype behind the #IceBucketChallenge without being fully aware of what the disease is.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. Death usually results an average of 5 years after diagnosis.

In the Northwest, we have a special advocate for ALS, former pro football player and Spokane native, Steve Gleason. Gleason attended and played football for Gonzaga Prep, WSU, and eventually went on to be most remembered for his blocked punt on the night the New Orleans Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, Steve was diagnosed with ALS. Steve is determined to inspire others by continuing to pursue life adventures despite his diagnosis, and has challenged the worlds of technology and science to identify their most promising developments toward new treatments and a cure.

While the Ice Bucket Challenge may have a limited shelf life as a viral campaign, ALS is an ongoing disease and awareness needs to continue.

by Matt Grebe, Communications Specialist

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3 Tips for Heading Back to School

It’s already time to head back to school? What? Say it ain’t so!

It sure seems like the school year drags on and on. So why is it that summer break flies by? As a parent, summertime usually means relaxed schedules, less supervised homework, and lots of play time. Getting back on track not only takes effort from your child, but a lot of effort on your part too. So, I’m sorry to break the news, but if you haven’t started shopping for pencils and notebooks yet, now is the time! It’s also time to start preparing your child for the start of school:

  1. Get needed immunizations. Although time at the pool sounds like much more fun, we can’t ignore the need to get your child their required immunizations. Contact your health care provider to ensure that your child is up to date. You may also want to inquire about recommended immunizations such as the flu vaccine.
  2. Get needed medications and paperwork. If your child has a chronic health condition, such as asthma or allergy, you’ll also want to ensure that you have spare medication for the school; and any necessary paperwork completed by your health care provider. Prior to the first day of school, drop off those medications and paperwork at your child’s school. Make sure you inform your child’s teacher of the chronic health condition as well.
  3. Get back on schedule. During the summer, bed times and wake times are generally more lax. To ease into the start of the school year, start getting your child to bed a little bit earlier in the evenings; and getting him or her up a bit earlier in the morning. Keep adjusting wake up times as you near the beginning of school. Doing so will ensure a less cranky kiddo – and in turn will decrease your stress level too!

by Kelley Halverson, Communications Manager

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Celebrating 20 Years

As we reflect back on the last 20 years, we find that we’ve come a long way. Starting with a small grant that allowed our CEO, Peg Hopkins, to open a 2 exam room clinic in downtown Spokane, we now have 10 locations, over 400 staff members, and the most important of all – we are the health care home to approximately 52,000 people.

Although a lot has changed over the years, one thing that hasn’t: at the heart of every decision we make we ask the same question – what is best for our patients? By asking that question, we continually renew our commitment to providing high quality, efficient and affordable care to our most important asset – our patients!

CHAS History wPics'051414

 

 

 

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Got Coverage?

As we near the 10,000 mark of those we’ve helped get coverage since October, we’re excited to offer a day of enrollment fun! This Saturday, we will have In-Person Assisters available to help get you enrolled in a health plan. Whether it’s Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) or a Qualified Health Plan, we can help! And why not have some fun while doing it?!

We’ll have games, prizes, a photo booth and lots of food. Bring your family, bring a friend, bring a neighbor – and have some fun!

Some important things to bring with you include (be sure to bring for your entire household):

  • date(s) of birth, address(es), and contact information
  • social security number(s)
  • income information for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for all adults and minors age 14 or older
  • tax returns and estimated tax status for 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • information about health insurance available to your family (including employer-sponsored health insurance, Medicare, TriCare, etc.)
  • passport, alien, or other immigration number(s) for any legal immigrants being enrolled

Please join us! Let’s have some enrollment fun!

CHAS Maple St. Clinic
3919 N. Maple St., Spokane
Saturday, March 29th
10am-2pm

Click here for more details.

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Helping the Homeless in Spokane

“Someone inside the tent stirred, but no one came out. “You deal with a lot of fear out here,” said Zarins-Ilgen, who does outreach for the Community Health Association of Spokane. “They don’t want to get kicked out.” (The Spokesman-Review, January 24, 2014)


We’re proud to be an organization that cares for and assists the homeless. We have a dedicated team who hits the streets of Spokane every day checking on those with no place to call their own. Additionally, we host and participate in several homeless focused events every year, including last month’s Homeless Memorial where we remembered 39 Spokane-area residents who lost their lives last year. Next week we will provide free medical and dental screenings at the 2014 Spokane Homeless Connect event which is being held at the Salvation Army. More details about this event can be found on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/spokanehc

We are here to help those in need regardless of their living situation. Everyone needs some security – a place where people care about them; a place where they can go in a time of need. We are honored to be that place for many of those without a home in Spokane.

One of our Community Outreach workers, Ilze, helps every year with the city’s homeless count.  She talks a bit more about her time helping this vulnerable population in an article published in the Spokesman Review.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/jan/24/count-of-spokanes-homeless-makes-big-difference/

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Here a cough…there a cough…Uh oh, do you have the flu?

Spokane’s flu numbers are on the rise. 135 influenza hospitalizations have been reported in Spokane County according to the Spokane Regional Health District.

There is still time to protect you and your family from the flu! CHAS offers flu vaccines to everyone. That’s right – you don’t have to be a patient to walk-in to a clinic and receive a flu shot.

Additionally, many people qualify for a free flu vaccine and don’t even realize it! See below chart on income qualifications for free flu vaccines:

Getting the flu is no fun; protect yourself and the people you love. Get vaccinated today!

Flu Facts:

  • Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • The influenza virus is one of the most changeable of viruses. Changes may be small and continuous or large and abrupt.
    • Influenza Type A is divided into subtypes that can be found worldwide and include H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 viruses.
    • Influenza Type B outbreaks can also cause epidemics, but the illness it produces is usually milder than Type A.
    • Influenza Type C flu viruses are not thought to cause a large epidemic and generally cause only mild respiratory infections.
  • http://www.flufacts.com/treat/relieving-symptoms.jsp
  • http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
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Coverage is here – and we are helping you get it!

Halfway through open enrollment, CHAS staff members have enrolled just over 5,100 individuals in a health plan!

Open enrollment for qualified health plans continues through March 31, 2014. Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) does not have an open enrollment period; enrollment can be completed anytime – but the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll have coverage!

Click here to see how we can help you through the enrollment process.

 

Looking back, looking forward

Last Friday, December 20th, Spokane residents gathered to remember homeless individuals who had passed away during 2013. CHAS hosts the memorial ceremony each year to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who lost their lives. The event is part of a national memorial organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless and is traditionally held on or near December 21st, the Winter Solstice – the official start of winter. Homeless Memorial 9 (1 of 1)

Speakers included CHAS COO, Aaron Wilson, CHAS Deputy Medical Director Bill Bomberger, PA-C, House of Charity’s Kari Chapman, and City’s Gate’s Pastor John.

Stories and statistics were shared including:

  • On a single night in January 2013, there were 610,042 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.
  • Of those, 65% were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 35% were living in unsheltered locations.
  • Last year, Washington was the third most successful state in reducing homelessness, with a reduction of 2,744 homeless people.
  • But, homelessness continues to be a problem in the Spokane area.
  • Last year, CHAS saw an 8% increase in homelessness amongst patients.
  • 13% of CHAS’ patients without a home are children.

Remembered at the memorial were 39 men and women. Each person’s name was read and a bell rang in their honor.

Homeless Memorial 11 (1 of 1)Looking back gives perspective on the daily struggles that live amongst us and that there is still much work to be done. Looking forward gives us hope that tomorrow can be better and that by working together we can help end homelessness.

The Homeless Outreach team at CHAS is fortunate to work with many non-profit organizations and community resources who assist those without a home, including, amongst others, House of Charity and City Gate.

Kelley Charvet is the Communications Manager at Community Health Association of Spokane

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Do you know Mike? His life is about to change.

When I was getting ready to head home yesterday, I started receiving reports from some of my co-workers about how many people they had enrolled in health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Some of the numbers reported were 36…and 52. I paused and thought, wow, that’s amazing! And then I got an email stating 59! What? Was that a typo? Two people enrolled 59 folks in just one day? Yes – that happened! I had to stop and pause a little longer.

Of course, those aren’t just numbers, those are people. Those are individual people who may have previously put off getting treatment because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for their visit. It may have been a decision between buying groceries, paying for gas, or getting that nagging cough checked out.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, in Washington State, adults between the ages of 19 up to 65 are now eligible for Medicaid if they have incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. Broken down, it looks like this:

Household Size 138%
1 $15,856
2 $21,404
3 $26,951
4 $32,499
5 $38,047
6 $43,594

For others who may not qualify for Medicaid, there are tax credits available for those with incomes between 138%- 400% of the federal poverty level.

There has been so much misinformation and political talk about this subject that sometimes the negative seems to overtake the positive. But when I reflect on what it all really means, I simply become thankful. I’m thankful that I live in a country that is taking a step towards a healthier future. I’m thankful that I live in Washington State where my friends, family and neighbors can get the health care they deserve. I’m thankful that people like Richard (age 23), Kathleen (age 62), Mike (age 30), and Valentina (age 45) are now going to be able to seek care when they actually need it – or a novel idea – practice preventative wellness! Yes! Finally!

Richard, Kathleen, Mike, Valentina, and so many others are about to experience a life change. They are about to be granted one of the most important rights we all should have. Access to health care. And for that, I am thankful.

More information about health care in Washington State can be found at:

Kelley Charvet is the Communications Manager at Community Health Association of Spokane

CHAS Enrolls Over 2,800 in First 55 Days

CHAS Enrolls Over 2,800 in First 55 Days

Since the beginning of open enrollment, October 1st, CHAS In-Person Assisters (IPAs) have been busy!

In the first 55 days of open enrollment, our IPAs have enrolled 2,802 patients in Washington’s expanded Medicaid plan (Washington Apple Health) or a qualified health plan.  IPAs have been meeting with individuals throughout all CHAS clinics and at various community events, helping answer questions and complete the enrollment process. Despite issues with the federal online marketplace, Washington State’s Healthplanfinder has enrolled nearly 100,000 Washingtonians. In Washington, it’s working!

Recently, the Huffington Post referenced the success that is being experienced in Washington State: http://huff.to/17SiszT

Assistance is available via phone or in person. Visit any CHAS clinic during clinic hours or call 509.444.8200 for more information or to enroll in an appropriate health plan.