Friendly Faces in New Spaces

During COVID-19, a great number of CHAS Health staff found both their workplaces and roles transformed.  With nonessential services suspended and many office visits converted to telephone or virtual visits, the need to check in patients at the front desk diminished and had the potential to compromise patient and staff safety if continued.  Toni Hites from the CHAS Latah Community Health clinic in Moscow, Idaho found herself still greeting patients, but instead of operating from the comfort of the clinic’s front office, she was now something like an extremely friendly healthcare bouncer–posted outside the clinic front door, donned nose to knees in protective gear.

“I have been enjoying my new role as a greeter, because I get to meet all of the dental people. It has been great getting to know my co-workers who I would not usually get to work with this closely. I have also gotten to know my pharmacy co-workers as well.  We have a great team here at Latah CHAS, and they have made this fun even in these difficult times.  I have also gotten to hear from the patients how they appreciate all we do for them, like running in to get their prescriptions for them.”

If you 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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

COVID-19 and Community Generosity

During the pandemic, we have received a heartening number of donations of individually wrapped food for employees serving in our clinics and tents, face masks for staff and patients, and monetary gifts to fill in the gaps.  Gifts have arrived not just from caring individuals and organizations all over the Inland Northwest, but also from Seattle, Chicago, Iowa and Florida.  Our own employees and even family members of staff have made generous donations as well.  This is the story of Katie Negri, one of our incredible Application Support Analysts, and how she and our community came together to give:

Katie is part of a Facebook group named “Helping Spokane County get through COVID-19” and she noticed an organization called Spokane Ear Savers mentioned several times. 

“I originally reached out looking to purchase some of the ear savers for a few of my co-workers in IT, but when I mentioned I worked for CHAS, Briana, the woman who responded to my message, stated that she wanted to donate 200 to our practice.” 

After picking up the initial order of 200, “Briana messaged me again to let me know that they made an additional 200 ear savers to donate to CHAS and that I could pick them up whenever it was convenient. This group is amazing and extremely thoughtful!”

A big thank you to our own Katie and to Briana at Spokane Ear Savers for coming together to serve our community and staff during COVID-19.

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

By Vanessa Bryant

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

COVID-19 and Patient Calls

One of the challenges of being a Call Center Representative at a healthcare organization, even when it isn’t a crisis, is that you often don’t get to circle back with the patients you assist day after day and inevitably worry about.  On one such occasion during COVID-19, our call center expert Sam at Spokane’s downtown CHAS Denny Murphy Clinic, was fortunate enough to reconnect.

“Last week I had a patient with a 3-month-old son call in panicked that he had been having trouble breathing that morning…” Sam quickly got the patient on the phone with a nurse, “…and I’m not quite sure what had happened from there.” 

Luckily, when the patient called back a few days later, Sam was once again connected with her. 

“She thanked CHAS for being such a great resource for her and her family.  She said that our team is always going above and beyond for our patients’ health!  She emphasized how in the midst of the craziness of COVID, CHAS was there for her!”

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

Working the Tent during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 Crisis, many of our employees were moved from working inside their regular clinic location, to helping in our screening tents outside of our primary care clinics.  Here are some comments about tent work from one of our amazing Nurse Practitioners, Todd:

“The patients and families I interacted with [in the tent] were ALL amazing, supportive and understanding of the processes we went through to keep them and their family members safe.  In those moments there was a real sense of community and we are all working together.” 

Todd noted that CHAS support staff were all great; not just the Medical Assistants and other staff screening at the door and running for supplies, but even the facilities employee who got the heat on to make employees more comfortable and who broke down the tent at the end of the day.  

“I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that supports its employees, families and community in a time like this.”

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

Gumby and COVID-19 Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you about the historic flexibility of CHAS Health workers, which we celebrate with a yearly Gumby Award.  Not only have a huge number of our employees transitioned swiftly to working from home (in no small part due to our amazingly responsive Gumby-Guru IT staff), but those still working in our clinics and screening tents had to learn to change protocols daily.

Our fleet of Gumbys learned to use new equipment and garb, they learned to treat patients while also social distancing, and some of them even learned how to do completely new jobs as a number of our functions had to be adapted, curtailed or shut down for patient and employee safety.

Through it all, staff continued to laugh, learn, and thanked CHAS for keeping us on the books when so many people were losing their incomes. Our employees embody the “We can do this” spirit.  Of course we can… We’re Gumby, Danggit!

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS


By Vanessa Bryant

Gumby and COVID-19 Part 1

The COVID-19 crisis has required the unbelievably flexible employees of CHAS Health to extend themselves even more than usual.  Did you know that at CHAS, we have a Gumby Award?  For those of you who are Millennial or younger, Gumby is a big green clay old-timey cartoon character known for his flexibility, recently portrayed once again by Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live (the original Gumby is significantly less salty and more agreeable than Murphy’s version).  Since what seems like the dawn of time, we have been giving this award out yearly to express our appreciation for the extreme resilience and adaptability of our employees.  Our jobs change constantly and we swiftly accept change and move on to focus on how to best serve our patients in the context of today’s changes (or this morning’s changes, or this minute’s changes…). 

Working from home has been a new experience for many of us during this time, and has been particularly unusual for our front line health care workers. 

Rachel Clements, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at CHAS Lewis and Clark Health Center in Lewiston, Idaho shared, “I am so grateful that I can connect with my patients by phone or virtually so that I can help them achieve health.  It’s also a joy to be able to talk to people when we are most comfortable (both of us at home).  I get so many compliments on my kitchen curtains!” 

Rachel’s positivity and humor around this change are emblematic of the quiet heroics our health center staff display daily.

Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis, some of our staff transitioned from working at a clinic to working at home on same day notice.  Less Gumby-like employees may have struggled with such a quick turnaround but at CHAS we’re more like, “That’s it?  What else you got?”

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

By Vanessa Bryant

Treating COVID, Grieving COVID

She may be wearing a surgical mask, but there is a person behind that mask who is dealing with the reality of the pandemic just like the rest of us.  Here is a story from Amanda, a Registered Nurse working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis in Deer Park, Washington:

“It is natural to worry about the exposure and safety of my family, but my mind is definitely at ease knowing I have the PPE [personal protective equipment] to protect me from this terrible bug… My grandmother (in-law) passed recently, on hospice, from brain cancer. Her daughter was unable to visit her because she also has cancer and with the stay-at-home order as well as her being high risk to go in public, she was unable to see her mom during her last days–which breaks my heart. If this was my own situation, I would be absolutely devastated not to be with my mom in her last days.”

If you are struggling with grief or coping right now and would like to explore counseling services, call CHAS Health at 509-444-8200.

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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

#GIVINGTUESDAYNOW | May 5th

#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: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

What would you do if you got a cavity and didn’t have dental insurance?

Yesterday we shared about a local service group who created a Dr. Seuss-themed book nook for children at CHAS Maple Street Clinic. In sticking with the Dr. Seuss-theme, consider the following quote: “Only brush the teeth you want to keep.”

Image result for dr seuss only brush the teeth you want to keep"

While that advice seems simple enough, what would you do if you got a cavity and didn’t have dental insurance, like the 7,611 uninsured dental patients CHAS Health serves?

Many local partners have stepped up to help low-income and uninsured patients to access oral health services.

  • Providence and CHAS Health have partnered to bring a Dental Residency program to Spokane, targeted to serve low-income patients.
  • The City of Spokane awarded our organization a grant to help low-income, uninsured City of Spokane residents with their out-of-pocket cost for dental care.
  • The Washington State Legislature awarded capital funding to CHAS Health to open a dental clinic in Spokane Valley, and to expand our existing dental clinic in Clarkston.

Over the past five years, CHAS Health has constructed new dental facilities to add 45 dental chairs throughout the Inland Northwest. Fundraising efforts, including donations and grants, have been essential to achieve this expansion, as the equipment for each dental chair costs $60,000. If you are doing the math, that’s $2,700,000 for 45 dental chairs! And, that price tag doesn’t even include the cost to construct the facilities for those dental chairs.

In 2020, we will need to replace the failing dental equipment at our Denny Murphy Clinic, our main Health Care for the Homeless site, located in downtown Spokane. The equipment at this site has been well-maintained for the past 20 years, but is now at its end of life.

In short, our work is not done. We want to help everyone in our community to keep ALL of their teeth! We look forward to new and continued partnerships to continue improving access to oral health care in 2020 and beyond.

This blog post part of a special CHAS Health series for #GivingTuesday 2019. #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide. During the Thanksgiving season, it is easy to get swept up in the fervor of shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, will kick off the giving season and inspire people to collaborate and give back. Follow CHAS Health on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.