Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (YNHS), a private nonprofit health clinic in Yakima, Washington, was established to provide preventive health care and education services to low-income people. YNHS has experienced steady growth adding additional providers and services to meet the needs of Yakima residents. The organization enjoys strong community backing, a dedicated Board of Directors, and committed staff. The YNHS philosophy, leadership, and no-frills approach to health care have succeeded in providing cost-effective delivery of quality service for three decades to residents of the Yakima Valley.
The Early Years. In May 1975, the Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (YNHS) clinic opened in downtown Yakima, Washington’s Central Business District. Developed to serve residents of southeast Yakima, the clinic originally focused on preventive health services, including weight loss clinics, smoking cessation programs and well-child care. During the first year, the clinic staff saw an average of 12 patients each day.
BY 1979, it was evident that the working poor were at a loss for comprehensive health care and the Board of Directors charged the staff with development of a full-scope primary care center, providing accessible, affordable, quality health care.
The YNHS philosophy, leadership, and no-frills approach to health care have succeeded in providing cost-effective delivery of quality service for three decades to residents of the Yakima Valley. This vision became the long-standing primary mission of Yakima's Community Health Center. A second home on 8th street was connected to the original building in 1975, making it possible to expand the medical clinic and add the Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) nutrition program. The WIC program was added in 1981.
In 1980, YNHS was awarded the first of many state contracts to provide ongoing comprehensive health care for low income and otherwise disadvantaged families. Maternal Child Health (MCH) grant funds were obtained to augment the clinic’s services in the Upper Yakima Valley and Sunnyside to children ages 0-21 and pregnant women who were without health insurance or Medicaid. Services included primary care, Healthy Kids exams, immunizations, and prenatal support services. The WIC program has grown from 900 clients per month in 1981 to a caseload averaging 7,000 clients per month today.
YNHS began an ongoing contract in 1987 with the Washington State Department of Health and Health Care Authority Community Health Services (CHS) Program to provide services to low income and uninsured medical and dental patients.
In 1992, YNHS took the lead in obtaining designation for all parts of Yakima County to be designated as a Medically Underserved Area. Prior to this effort, only specific census tracts within the county were eligible as MUA service areas. This designation was essential not only for the growth of YNHS, but to the greater Yakima medical community. The MUA application had the support of the private medical community, as well as the local County Medical Society.
Once the MUA designation was achieved, YNHS applied for and achieved designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), allowing YNHS to receive financial support for interpreters, transportation, and education to families who could not otherwise access needed health care services. It also made YNHS eligible as a loan repayment site for the National Health Service Corps, so that health care professionals could receive loan repayment for serving uninsured and disadvantaged populations.
With funding secured from Yakima Federal Savings and Loan, YNHS built a new 11,000 square foot facility in 1994 and recruited pediatricians, internists, family practice physicians and an obstetrical team to the primary care program. Public health staff (nurses, nutritionists, counselors, case managers, educators) was increased to accommodate the resulting increases in maternal child health caseloads.
By 1996, the original YNHS building was remodeled into a dental facility and a team consisting of a dentist, dental hygienist and two dental assistants were successfully recruited. YNHS was awarded a grant from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Washington Dental Services Foundation to remodel and equip the new dental clinic.
At the 25-Year Mark. 2000: Providing affordable, accessible and quality medical and dental care to people in Washington’s Yakima Valley.
As the new century began, the growing organization was operating from two Valley locations, the downtown Yakima location and the Lower Yakima Valley office, located on East Edison Street in downtown Sunnyside. Yakima Neighborhood Health Services was providing medical and dental care to an average of 500 patients daily with nearly 50 of those visits taking place in patient homes.
“YNHS has been the first point of entry for many people to find their way into the medical system,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anita Monoian said in 2000. “We are seeing generations of families here. Many of the children we cared for in the 1980s are now bringing their own children to YNHS for care. We have a committed and respected staff that recognizes the special needs of our patients.” With the clinic’s proximity to the Convention Center and the downtown area, YNHS was also caring for out-of-town patients through the acute care clinic.
In 2001, the historic Richey House – which had lives over the previous 100 years as prominent Yakima orchardist’s James Richey’s family home, then as a business and apartment house -- became part of the YNHS campus. CEO Anita Monoian and Board Chair Don Hinman saw the property’s potential and secured the landmark’s donation from the 5-A Property Group. YNHS carefully moved the three-story home across downtown Yakima and over the course of the next year, transformed the home. The first floor’s century-old architecture, original plaster scrollwork, carved wooden banisters, parquet floors and leaded glass windows were carefully restored for office and meeting space, preserved for the many visitors to YNHS each year. Renovation of the second and third floors, and an adjacent 10,000-plus square foot addition gave Richey House new purpose. A new reception area and 16 additional exam rooms were opened, dramatically expanding the clinic’s capacity to provide internal medicine, obstetric care, women’s health care programs and senior health services. A pharmacy for YNHS patients opened in the addition in 2004, making it possible for YNHS to offer discounted pricing for low-income patients without access to prescription drug coverage.
In 2005, Yakima County identified health services as one of the county’s top priorities for homeless families and individuals. In response, YNHS developed the Neighborhood Connections health clinic and coordinated services in partnership with providers from Triumph Treatment Services, Comprehensive Mental Health, La Casa Hogar, Interfaith Coalition and other shelter providers to assure providing of health screening and treatment both at the clinic and locations where homeless people gather. The program has grown to include transitional housing (2007) and permanent supportive housing (2009), case management services, respite care (2008) and an Outreach Van, which supports the outreach team. With the generous support of the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, YNHS purchased equipment and furnishings for its Respite Care apartments in 2009. “We are proud … to have so many committed and collaborative partners willing to share valuable and limited resources for the greatest good of our community,” said Rhonda Hauff, COO.
By 2006, YNHS expanded its Lower Yakima Valley Maternity Support and WIC services with the move to a new Sunnyside facility. In 2007, the Sunnyside Dental Clinic opened at the new site with the help of a Washington Dental Service grant that equipped the three dental operatories. Dental Director Brett Miller, DDS, noted that the new clinic made it possible to offer one-stop services for children and parents many of whom had not previously seen a dentist or had gone many years without care. “Our dental staff are able to change people’s lives,” Dr. Miller said, noting that more homeless people were also being seen at the Sunnyside clinic as well as at the Yakima dental clinic.
With the 2009 election of CEO Anita Monoian as board chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), Yakima Neighborhood Health Services was on the forefront nationally. At her election in Chicago, Monoian recognized her co-workers at YNHS for “…the progress we have made. Not only have we expanded our programs, we have built a new facility and established ourselves as a training center for students pursuing careers in health.”
Part of the YNHS Mission has always been to provide learning opportunities to students of health professions. Training opportunities at YNHS through local and state vocational and higher education learning programs have recruited many health professionals to the Yakima Valley. YNHS contributes to the region’s economic health as well: annually, YNHS makes a $13.5 million investment (2009 data) in the Yakima Valley, through salaries and benefits to more than 160 staff and professionals and local purchase of goods and services. YNHS has also taken leadership in accreditation, achieved an “extreme score” of 99 in the 2003 Joint Commission survey and continuing the tradition of outstanding scores in subsequent surveys.
Celebrating 40 Years. 2014-on. The commitment to excellence continues as YNHS celebrates its 40th Anniversary. With healthcare reform and the increasing emphasis on primary care, prevention and collaboration between community providers, YNHS was the first Community Health Center in Washington State to achieve NCQA Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home, and has been part of a strong Community Health Center Controlled Network working to maximize the quality of Electronic Health Records in efforts to improve health outcomes for the people we serve.
Going where the need is led YNHS to open a medical and dental clinic in Granger, Washington, one of the poorest cities in the state with high rates of uninsured, in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Around the same time, The Space, an LGBTQ Youth Resource Center, opened in a house on our mothership campus in Yakima. Similarly, at-risk young women aging out of foster care can find a home and support at the BESTY house, a residential facility.