COVID-19 and New Staff Roles

During COVID-19, a great number of CHAS Health staff had to quickly shift to doing their work differently or doing completely different work!  The impact was especially great on our dental team.  When the pandemic necessitated the treatment of dental emergencies only, Dental Assistant Ayla Maki from CHAS Latah Community Health in Moscow, Idaho got a brand new temporary job:

“During COVID-19, I transitioned from being a dental assistant to helping in the pharmacy as a technician.  Working in the pharmacy has been fun and informative.  The Latah pharmacy staff have been encouraging, patient, and supportive during this new experience!  I have a whole new respect for those working in the pharmacy and what they do on a daily basis.  I am incredibly grateful for this new experience, as well as being able to keep helping out in the clinic where needed during this transitional time. I am thankful for CHAS and that they have continually supported me and my fellow employees through this temporary situation.”

If you require emergency dental care or are a CHAS Health patient needing pharmacy services, give as a call at (509) 444-8200 in Washington or (208) 838-8300 in Idaho.

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at:


#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow is an opportunity for people around the world to stand together in unity–to use their individual power of generosity to remain connected and heal.  Generosity gives everyone the power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can embrace. #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing.

Join CHAS Health for the next two weeks as we share stories from our staff and patients about working on the COVID-19 front lines. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, share our stories with friends, or if you can, participate in the giving to help us continue to serve patients during these trying times. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at:

CHAS Health Announces New Foundation; Prioritizes Funding for Patients Impacted by COVID-19

Spokane, WA, April 13, 2020 – Last year, CHAS Health took the initial steps to start a Foundation, with the intent of creating a funding vehicle to address patient and community health equity. The Foundation Board recently formed and recognizes the urgent need for a fundraising campaign to help economically challenged patients facing extraordinary difficulties during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We know people in our community are being impacted by lay-offs and lost wages right now. This leads to loss of health insurance, difficulty affording prescriptions, and other social determinants of health. We want to use the new Foundation to start providing patient assistance immediately,” stated Lindsey Ruivivar, Foundation spokesperson.

CHAS Health is actively involved in the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is quickly adapting operations to meet the needs of patients. Like other health care providers across the nation, CHAS Health is experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical and N95 masks. The organization has temporarily ceased dental operations except for emergencies, in accordance with CDC guidelines and to conserve personal protective equipment. To limit the number of patients and staff in clinics and to help stop the spread of the virus, most patient appointments have been converted to telehealth visits when appropriate.

To-date, CHAS Health has screened 5,546 individuals for COVID-19, and tested 947 individuals; 31 tests have come back positive, and more results are pending. Five CHAS Health clinics have tents to screen patients for upper respiratory symptoms, while minimizing exposure risks for patients and staff.

“The pandemic has necessitated switching a lot of our operations to virtual care, which has proven to be effective both for medical and behavioral health services,” states Aaron Wilson, CHAS Health CEO. “We are focused on providing continuity of care for our patients, regardless of their circumstances.”

The Foundation has begun to receive seed funding, including financial donations from CHAS Health employees who are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite operation and equipment challenges, the organization remains optimistic.

“We are excited to move the Foundation forward, and to use this as an opportunity for the community to partner with us to help patients get through the pandemic,” says Ruivivar. “We have been humbled by the tangible donations that have begun to pour in, from people dropping off masks, to businesses donating coffee and lunch for our employees who are working long hours right now.”

The Foundation is actively soliciting donations to provide assistance for patients in need. Donations may be made online at or by calling 509-444-8888 and asking to speak with the Foundation.


This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities.

The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

Let’s Talk About Teeth!

Healthy teeth are an important part of a healthy body.  Spending a few minutes each day taking care of your teeth keeps your smile beautiful and your body happy.

Did you know?

Children who visit the dentist before they are four years old are less likely to need dental procedures (crown placement, restorations, tooth removal) compared with children who start seeing the dentist at a later age.


Keep Those Pearly Whites Shining Bright

  • Clean teeth twice daily with a soft toothbrush
  • Brush for two minutes each time (sing the ABCs in your head three times!)
  • Start flossing once per day as soon as teeth begin to touch
  • Parents should supervise brushing until at least kids are able to tie their shoes

A word about fluoride:

  • Use fluoride-containing toothpaste for all children with teeth – For children less than three years, use an amount the size of a grain of rice. For children over three, use an amount the size of a pea!
  • Most of the water in the Spokane area is non-fluoridated, consider a fluoride supplement – ask your doctor!
  • Have fluoride painted on your teeth as often as recommended by your dentist or doctor

Watch What You Eat – Your Teeth Are Counting On It!

  • Frequent snacking and sugary beverages during the day may increase the risk of dental decay
    • If you plan on snacking on sugar-containing drink (soda/juice/sports drink), drink it within a limited time instead of slowly sipping during the day
    • Try to give your mouth a three hour break between sugary foods/drinks
  • After sugary foods and beverages try rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum
  • Watch out for: hard candy, gummy candy/vitamins, cough drops, fruit leathers

A Moment for the Young Ones:

  • The first tooth usually appears around six months of age
  • Think about scheduling the first dental visit at the one year birthday
  • Start a training cup (sippy cup) at six months. Plan to ditch all bottles by one year

Factors that increase the risk of developing dental decay:

  • Bottle use beyond 12 months of age
  • Using a sippy cup throughout the day (especially for juice/sugary drinks)
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Using a bottle at bed time
  • Breastfeeding past 12 months if nursing overnight

By Dr. Baca, MD




The Climacteric, The Change of Life, or my favorite:

MANopause.  That’s right, fella’s, back away slowly…

Throughout a woman’s life, hormones are constantly shifting and changing, rising, and falling, performing an intricate dance.  When the ovaries reach the end of their lifespan, on average around the age of 50, they no longer produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone.  For some women this happens suddenly and they are thrust into distressing symptoms such as irregular periods, heavy  bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and pain with sex, low sex drive, anxiety, irritability, and even depression.  Perimenopause, the years before the official diagnosis of menopause, can last 10 years or more.  When you have not had a period for an entire year, we can officially say you are in menopause.

One of the most common distressing symptoms are called “hot flashes”. Hot flashes begin as a sudden sensation of heat centered on the upper chest and face that rapidly becomes generalized.  The sensation of heat lasts from two to four minutes, is often associated with profuse perspiration and occasionally palpitations, and is sometimes followed by chills, shivering, and a feeling of anxiety.  Hot flashes may range from less than one each day to as many as one per hour during the day and night.  On average, symptoms last 5 years but 30% of women have symptoms for 10 years and 9% of women have symptoms for 20 years

Modern medicine can offer relief from distressing symptoms, but there is no “cure” for this very natural life process.  As with any medication, there are risks and benefits.  A discussion with your provider can help you decide if medication or hormone replacement therapy is right for you.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to manage symptoms at home.  These suggestions are basic recommendations for self-care:

For the management of hot flashes and night sweats:

  1. Lower the room temperature
  2. Use fans
  3. Dress in layers that can be easily shed
  4. Wear a base layer that wicks moisture away from your skin.
  5. Avoid spicy food, hot drinks, alcohol, stress
  6. Weight Loss

To keep your mood and emotions steady:

  1. Daily Exercise
  2. Daily Yoga or other mindful meditation and relaxation

For vaginal dryness and pain with sex:

  1. Use a vaginal moisturizer three times a week.
  2. Use lubrication for sex.
  3. Sorry, we have no great medical solution for libido


To protect your bones, support your immune system, and promote sleep:

  1. 1200mg of Calcium
  2. 400mg Magnesium
  3. 2000IU Vitamin D daily.

Calcium is only absorbed 500mg at a time so taking a supplement twice a day with meals, in addition to at least one serving of dairy or other calcium fortified food daily will supply what you need. The Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium and it activates it in your muscle and bone cells so it can work for you.  Magnesium and Vitamin D help with mood and a healthy immune system, too.

For more information on perimenopause and menopause, you can explore the following:

The Wisdom of Menopause, by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

-Kirstin Johnson, Certified Nurse Midwife

Senator Maria Cantwell stops by CHAS Health to talk about Basic Health.

United States Senator Maria Cantwell stopped by CHAS Health’s Maple Street Clinic to urge Washington State to bring back Basic Health Plan.

Basic Health is a federal program that was modeled after Washington State’s Basic Health Plan, which went away when the WA HealthPlanFinder Marketplace website was implemented. This program would help patients who have had difficulty affording the cost of Marketplace Plans.

Cantwell was joined by Washington State Representative Marcus Riccelli, CHAS Health CEO, Aaron Wilson, the Native Project CEO, Toni Lodge, and other advocates urging the state to adopt the affordable insurance program again. Cantwell said it could help about 162,000 people in Washington, who earn between $16,242 and $23,540 annually, which is just above the Medicaid eligibility rate. “The Federal Basic Health Plan will help patients maintain affordable coverage and will also reduce unnecessary health system costs by enabling patients to maintain continuity of coverage instead of churning between the Apple Health program and the exchange plans” says Wilson.Cantwell press conference chas

“Our state has been an innovator in health care in so many ways, and Basic Health is just another example of that.” Cantwell said, now that we have the basic health plan as a federal option, currently a family of 4 in Spokane with an income of 48,000 per year could have these options. Right now, paying a monthly premium of $259/month for a private plan on the exchange, that same family in New York under the Basic Health Plan is paying just $20/month. If the Basic Health Plan had similar premiums…that family could save over $2886/per year.”

Many families are, “literally one broken arm away for their kids to sending them in to financial hardship.”

It’s a plan that saves the consumer money, improves the overall health of our community, and it saves the state money. There could be more than 10,000 people in Spokane that would qualify for the Basic Health Plan.Cantwell press conference chas 3


We love Cheney!


For over 20 years, CHAS Health has made its way through the Pacific Northwest and into the hearts of many. With 12 various locations including Lewiston, Clarkston, Latah and Deer Park, the CHAS community has continued to expand to now include the Cheney area.

CHAS Health is a non-profit, federally qualified health center. We provide medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health services to everyone, regardless of insurance status. Currently, CHAS serves approximately 52,000 patients each year and is a “patient led” organization. CHAS’ mission is to “improve the overall health of the communities we serve by expanding access to quality health and wellness services.”

With the opening of the new Cheney Health Center, CHAS hopes to continue to grow and foster wellness in all communities. For many, the new facility will remove the commute to Spokane for healthcare, provide students with a health care alternative, and give residents the opportunity to confront their healthcare needs in a safe, friendly, and affordable environment.

Stay tuned for our in-clinic pharmacy – coming spring 2016!


Monday – Friday    9am – 4pm

Located at 1720 2nd St. Cheney, WA 99004

To schedule an appointment, please call (509)444-8200


By Katiah Peterson