Author: Jennifer Moon

Coping with COVID

View Unity Care NW’s class “Coping with COVID” here. Learn about resiliency, positive thinking, and other strategies for optimizing your mental health during the pandemic.  Contact or call 360-296-7185 for more info.

The class resource packet is available here.

Additional resources for taking care of your mental health:

  • The state of Washington has created a website which includes mental and emotional support resources for Washingtonians.  The Washington Listens program will provide supportive counseling to anyone who needs it during this heightened time of stress.  You can call as often and you want, and talk as long as you need. 1-833-681-0211.



Flu Vaccines Now Available

Flu season is here! In a year like no other, now is the time to protect yourself and those around you. This year, with COVID-19, we face a double threat of illness. We can keep ourselves healthy, reduce the strain on our health care system, and save lives by getting a flu shot.

Flu vaccine is the best protection we have from flu and its complications. A flu shot will protect you throughout the flu season. (Inactivated flu vaccine does not contain live flu virus, so getting the flu from this vaccine is not possible.) Flu vaccine also helps prevent spreading flu from person to person.

Unity Care NW is now offering flu vaccinations to our medical patients by appointment, with convenient Saturday hours in Bellingham. Call (360) 676-6177 to make an appointment.


Pharmacy Changes: Curbside Pickup and Lobbies

There are now three ways to pick up your prescriptions:
  • Pharmacy Counters: Unity Care NW patients may now receive services in our Pharmacy lobbies. Lobby capacity is limited to 6 patients total (for both the pharmacy and Quest Labs) at our Bellingham Pharmacy and 4 patients total at the North Whatcom Health Center. When lobbies are at capacity, pharmacy patients can receive curbside service or wait for a pharmacy patient to leave and then enter the pharmacy. Those needing lab services can place your name and phone number on the Quest labs sign-in sheet and the Quest labs technician will call you when you can enter the waiting room. Everyone wishing to access both pharmacy and lab services must wear a mask and be successfully screened prior to entering the waiting room.  If you do not wish to be screened, you can receive curbside service.
  • Curbside pickup for Bellingham patients: Pharmacy curbside pickup hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you are arriving by car, park in one of three designated spots alongside the pharmacy building on Unity Street. If you are arriving on foot, find the walk-up curbside pickup sign in front of the pharmacy building. When you arrive, call the phone number posted on the sign (360-296-7190) and a pharmacy team member will process any payment by credit card and bring your prescription to your car. If you need to pay with cash or check, you will need to be screened and enter the pharmacy lobby. We ask that you wear a mask and not smoke when using curbside pickup.
  • Curbside pickup for North Whatcom Health Center patients: Pharmacy curbside pickup hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you are arriving by car, park in one of the two designated spots alongside the west side of the North Whatcom Health Center building. If you are arriving on foot, locate the “walk-up” curbside pickup location under the covered area near the main entrance. When you arrive, call the phone number posted on the sign (360-788-2684) and a pharmacy team member will process any payment by credit card and bring your prescription to your car. If you need to pay with cash or check, you will need to be screened and enter the pharmacy lobby.
    We ask that you wear a mask and not smoke when using curbside pickup.
  • Pharmacy Delivery: Limited pharmacy delivery service is available to Unity Care NW patients. For more information about our delivery option, click here.

It’s Time for the 2020 Census

Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution directs government officials to conduct a Census of everyone living in the United States (not just citizens). This year’s Census is now underway. All households should have received official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:

  • Online
  • By phone
  • By mail

Completing the Census using one of these methods will prevent a visit to your home from a Census worker.

Here are a few important things to know about the Census:

  • There is no citizenship question. No one will be asked about their citizenship.
  • The Census involves basic questions about how many people live in your household and whether you own or rent. It shouldn’t take more than about 15 minutes to complete, probably less!
  • The Census results touch every aspect of our lives, affecting everything from where businesses locate to funding for schools, clinics and libraries; from the number of congressional seats and electoral college delegates we’re allotted to legislative boundaries and voting rights enforcement.
  • An incomplete count means our businesses, school districts, health care providers, nonprofits and governments will all be making decisions based on data that undercounts our population. The decisions will affect the next decade (until the next Census) — or for generations in the case of infrastructure.
  • For every person not counted, our county loses an estimated $25,000 over the 10-year period until the next Census.

During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask you for:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Money or donations
  • Anything on behalf of a political party
  • Your bank or credit card account numbers

To avoid scams related to the Census, click here. To learn more about the security of the information you provide, click here. For general information about the Census, click here.

If you haven’t yet provided your Census information, do it today!

Special Enrollment Period Announced for Health Insurance

If you are in need of health insurance, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has announced a special enrollment period due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Qualified individuals may enroll in health insurance now through April 8th.

To learn more, click here. If you need assistance with enrolling in health care insurance, contact our Outreach and Enrollment staff at (360) 788-2669 or

UCNW Response to Coronavirus

Unity Care Pharmacy Staff

As Unity Care NW restores routine medical and dental care, how are you ensuring safety?

Learn about the steps we are taking to keep patients and staff safe, click here.

Where can I find more information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • Updates from the Whatcom County Health Department can be found here.
  • If you have general questions about COVID-19, you can call the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Information call center at 800-525-0127, then press #.
  • What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19) [PDF]
  • What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) [PDF] [Spanish]
  • What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and have not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 [PDF]
  • COVID-19 American Sign Language Symptom Checker
  • Tips for preventing illness can be found here. [PDF] [Spanish] [Russian] [Punjabi]
  • If you are self-quarantined or have been tested for COVID-19, click here for information about obtaining prescriptions and groceries and what to do about appointments.

Can I get tested to determine whether or not I have Coronavirus?

Unity Care NW is following Whatcom County Health Department testing recommendations. Tests provided through Unity Care NW are only available to Unity Care NW patients at this time.

The “screening” Unity Care NW is currently conducting at the entrances to our health centers is not testing. Rather, we are checking patients for fevers and/or other symptoms of illness to help us manage their visit to the health center and ensure the safety of staff and other patients.

Where can I find information about Unity Care NW COVID-19 procedures and programs and community resources?

For information about program cancellations, changes to check-in procedures, and getting services, click here. You can also find information about self-care, community resources, and financial assistance.

What is a Coronavirus?

There are many different strains of coronavirus. The common cold is a type of coronavirus. Some types can cause mild illness, while previous strains, such as the one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003, are more serious.

What’s the concern about this Coronavirus?

This is a “novel” coronavirus, meaning that it’s a strain not previously seen. Much of the concern about this strain is that it’s so new that we’re still learning how it works.

Coronavirus has now spread widely across Washington State and countries around the world. There is an increased possibility of serious illness, including death, among those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.

What should I do if I think I may have Coronavirus?

If you have a fever, a cough, or feel short of breathplease call ahead of time at (360) 676-6177 before coming to our offices. That way, we can make sure that we take precautions to protect staff and other patients and respond appropriately to your symptoms. Currently, all patients are being screened at the front entrance before entering the building. Screening includes a temperature check and several questions.  All patients are required to wear a mask to protect others.  One will be provided if you do not have one.

More information about COVID-19 symptoms can be found here. Symptoms include cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.

If you are experiencing severe shortness of breath or symptoms of a severe illness or injury of any nature, call 911.

Our After Hours Nurse Line is (360) 255-5334. If you are uninsured or have insurance coverage through Community Health Plan of Washington, you can call the Community Health Plan of Washington’s Nurse Advice Line at (866) 418-1002.

What can I do to prevent getting sick?



You can do the same things you always do during cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water or use hand sanitizer frequently, particularly before eating or touching your face
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Drink plenty of liquids, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of sleep for a stronger immune system
  • If you’re sick, stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible






How do I know if I have a Cold, the Flu, or Coronavirus?

From what we know so far, symptoms of Coronavirus can range from mild to severe. Reports suggest, however, that more severe cases of coronavirus begin like the Flu — symptoms tend to come on quickly.

If you are sick with Flu-like symptoms but don’t feel sick enough to seek medical attention…

  • Get tested. Anyone can now be tested for COVID-19. Call (360) 676-6177 for more information.
  • Stay home.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take fever-reducing, pain-relieving medication as needed and directed.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes.
  • Continue to wash your hands.
  • Stay away from others as much as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces regularly or ask someone in your household to do this.

For more recommendations, click here.

Need Help with Tax Preparation?

Tax Day is coming on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the tax filing date remains April 15.  For those who are required to make a payment, however, you will still need to file by April 15, but, for most Americans, the payment will be extended for 90 days

Need help with tax preparation? If your household makes less than $66,000 a year, you are eligible for free tax preparation and filing assistance from the Opportunity Council. To learn more, visit the Whatcom Asset Building Coalition website.

By now, you have probably received either Form 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C in the mail. You may have received one, two, or all three of these forms, depending on your health insurance coverage in 2019.

Form 1095-A, also known as the “Health Insurance Marketplace Statement,” is sent to everyone who had a Qualified Health Plan in 2019. It is mailed out by Washington Health Plan Finder. You can find an electronic copy on your Washington Health Plan Finder account dashboard. Use this form to fill out IRS Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, which needs to be included in your federal income tax return when you file. This information determines if you received the right amount of tax credits to help you pay your plan’s premium.

Form 1095-B shows proof of health insurance coverage for 2019. If you had Washington Apple Health insurance coverage last year, you will receive this form. This form may also be mailed out by your private health insurance company or your employer. Form 1095-B is not needed to file your federal tax return, but it is important to keep for your records.

Form 1095-C is called the “Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage.” This form will be mailed out by your employer to show proof of coverage in 2019. Form 1095-C is not needed to file your federal tax return, but is important to keep for your records.

Have You Been Screened for Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a serious disease that harms the liver. It is caused by a virus and spreads from person to person through contact with blood. Without treatment, Hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver, liver cancer, and liver failure. But most people don’t even know they have Hepatitis C. Most people with Hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms.

The good news is that screening for Hepatitis C is as easy as a blood test, and new drugs can treat Hepatitis C quite effectively.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you be tested for Hepatitis C if you:

  • Were born from 1945 – 1965
  • Received donated blood or organs before 1992
  • Have ever injected drugs, even just once many years ago

If you fall into any of these categories and have never been screened for Hepatitis C, get screened! Call (360) 676-6177 to make an appointment today. Learn more here.

Jodi Joyce Selected as Unity Care NW CEO

Unity Care NW is excited to announce that our Board of Directors has selected Jodi Joyce as Unity Care NW’s next Chief Executive Officer. Joyce, who currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Quality & Patient Safety and Chief Quality Officer at University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, will succeed Desmond Skubi, the agency’s current CEO, at the end of January 2020.

“I am honored to accept this role and am inspired by the vision, passion, and expertise of the individuals who make up Unity Care NW,” said Joyce. “This organization has thrived under Mr. Skubi’s leadership, and I look forward to helping lead the next chapter as we continue to serve Whatcom County’s residents and communities in pursuing our healthiest possible lives.” 

Jodi has been at the University of Illinois in Chicago since October 2012. UI Hospital and its network of 12 federally qualified health centers provide access and care for many of Chicago’s most underserved communities. During her time at UI Health, Jodi and her colleagues have led a large “improvement journey” that has resulted in substantial improvements in quality and patient safety. She also teaches courses on quality, safety, leadership, and change management at several of UIC’s health sciences schools. Jodi’s former roles include Vice President for Quality & Patient Safety at Legacy Health, a six-hospital system based in Portland, Oregon, and co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute.

Jodi has prior experience in health care consulting and hospital management and began her career as a neonatal ICU nurse. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Wheaton College (IL), her BSN at Northwestern University, and her MBA at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Jodi is currently nearing the completion of a PhD at UIC.


Return Your Unused Medications

Do you have medications you’d like to clean out of our medicine cabinet? You can now safely dispose of unwanted, expired, and unused medications at both our 218 Unity St. pharmacy in Bellingham and at our North Whatcom Health Center location at 6060 Portal Way in Ferndale. Look for the secure return kiosks in the lobbies of our pharmacies.

Other secure return sites are located throughout Whatcom County. Learn more about the Whatcom Med Return program here. And watch a short video from about safe disposal here.