Category: Uncategorized

‘The Only Doctor’ at Pickford Film Center’s Doctober Film Festival


A middle aged woman in black scrubs stands in front of a brick building.Dr. Karen Kinsell’s clinic has served Clay County Georgia for over 22 years but in a state that has yet to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, the economics of running a sliding scale clinic isn’t feasible. The Clay County Medical Center is in disrepair and despite Dr. Kinsell’s commitment to work without pay, the clinic faces bankruptcy. But ever committed to her community, Dr. Kinsell looks to forge a partnership with a medical university in order to keep her clinic open. The film reveals the inequities of rural healthcare and how money and politics too often determine who does and does not receive medical care.

Georgia is one of 10 remaining states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid eligibility to include individuals earning less than $20,120 annually. The film presents the heartbreaking reality for people living in states without expanded Medicaid that stands in contrast to the experience of paying for care in Washington. Medicaid was expanded in this state in 2014 and affordable plans are available to those who qualify through the state’s health insurance exchange, Apple Health. Because of this, Federally Qualified Community Health Centers, like Unity Care NW, are able to help expand health care access to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Get Tickets

Unity Care NW has partnered with Pickford Film Center during their annual Documentary Film Fest: Doctober to host two showings of The Only Doctor. The film will be shown with a virtual Q&A with Dr. Karen Kinsell herself and the film’s Director, Matthew Hashiguchi at 5:15pm on Tuesday, October 10th and 7:30 pm on Tuesday, October 24th at Pickford Film Center.

Watch the trailer, purchase tickets on the Pickford Film Center website and find out what happens as Dr. Kinsell fights for her patients.

Unity Care NW is Sponsoring two showings of The Only Doctor at Pickford Film Center on October, 10th and 24th.

Don’t Lose Your Apple Health Insurance! We can help.

During COVID, nearly everyone who qualified for Apple Health insurance (Medicaid) was able to receive benefits without submitting an annual renewal.

Beginning April 2023, the Health Care Authority (HCA) Apple Health members will again have to renew their coverage annually.  Read on to learn more about Apple Health renewal to ensure you maintain your coverage (if eligible) during Apple Health enrollment.

How to Know if You Have Apple Health Insurance

Apple Health is the name for Medicaid in Washington. WA Apple Health is free or low-cost health insurance coverage for those who qualify. Everyone who has an Apple Health plan will have a Blue ProviderOne card like the one shown to the right. In almost all cases, the management of care for people with Apple Health insurance is delegated to a Managed Care Organization (MCO). There are five MCOs under WA Apple Health. They are Amerigroup Washington, Community Health Plan of Washington, Coordinated Care of Washington, Molina Healthcare of Washington, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. Your Apple Health could be through any of these MCOs and you may have been provided an additional insurance card.

What Does This Mean for Apple Health Users and Why is it Important?

Everyone using Apple Health insurance must submit information to renew their coverage. Apple Health users can only continue their coverage if they complete the Washington Apple Health renewal process on time and still qualify for Apple Health insurance.

Patients who do not take timely action before their WA Apple Health renewal period ends will lose their Apple Health coverage.

What Do Apple Health Plan Members Need to Do?

Update your contact information with the Health Care Authority. Renewal information and important notices about Apple Health coverage will go to the address on file with the HCA. Make sure your contact information is correct and up to date! The first step of your WA Apple Health renewal is to login to the Washington Health Plan Finder website and confirm your contact information or report a change in address. More information on how to report a change can be found on the HCA website.

Watch for Apple Health renewal information – and take action! WA Apple Health renewal information will arrive in your mailbox the month before your renewal date. For example, patients with a renewal date in May will receive a renewal notice in April and must complete the process before their renewal date. Remember that people who do not complete the renewal process on time will lose their Apple Health Coverage.

What if I No Longer Quality for Apple Health Insurance?                                                                   New Bellingham Office LocationA map with an arrow pointing to the location of the front entrance at 1616 Cornwall where Outreach & Enrollment offices in suite 107 can be accessed.

Patients who no longer qualify for Apple Health insurance can find an affordable plan through the  Health Plan Finder. We also offer a Sliding Fee Discount Program which lowers the cost of any services you receive not covered by your insurance. Eligibility is based on household size and income and our Enrolment Specialists can help you apply.

Need Help with Your Apple Health Renewal or Finding a New Health Plan?

Unity Care NW Enrollment Specialists can provide help with your WA Apple Health renewal or assist you with finding a new health plan  at two convenient locations!

If you need assistance navigating the renewal process, or if you need help figuring out how to apply for Apple Health or assistance, schedule an appointment with one of our Enrollment Specialists in Bellingham or Ferndale. These health plan experts can walk you through the system and help you find the right plan for your specific needs.

To schedule an appointment for help with your WA Apple Health renewal or another health plan, please contact us at (360) 788-2669 and speak to one of our Enrollment Specialists or click the button below and fill out the form.


It’s Time to Get Childhood Immunizations Back on Track

We’re all still in a pandemic recovery period and getting our lives back on schedule can be chaotic, from preventative healthcare to regular haircuts and beyond. For those with the next generation’s health in their hands, pediatric immunizations are especially important. Lately, many children have fallen behind on their vaccine schedules. Elisabeth Gehringer, D.O. and Associate Medical Director at Unity Care NW, recently sat down with WhatcomTalk to help encourage parents get back into the groove of their kids’ healthcare.

Why We Are Behind

“I’ve been seeing a pattern that kids have been falling behind on immunizations — the main challenge was related to the pandemic due to delay in care, and the result of those challenges was falling behind on their vaccine schedules,” says Dr. Gehringer. “Vaccines are a really important part of the well child check-ups that we have built into our visits.” Read the full article.

Join Us for a Housing Week Panel Discussion

Barriers & Opportunities for Housing Access
Tuesday, October 17th at 1:30pm
Unity Care NW, 220 Unity Street
Downstairs in the Schayes Community Room

Service providers will offer diverse perspectives to the barriers and limitations their clients face in accessing permanent housing locally and what opportunities they see with new and upcoming projects aimed at better serving people experiencing homelessness including The Way Station and the Alternative Response Team.


Teri Bryant, (she/her)
Director, Whatcom Homeless Service Center
Opportunity Council

Hannah Moore (she/her)
Facilities Supervisor & Landlord
Lake Whatcom Residential & Treatment Center

Julie Grace (she/her)
Case Manager
Unity Care NW

Ashley Buerger (she/her)
Executive Director

Molina Healthcare– A Legacy of Giving Back

Physician listens to senior Caucasian woman's heartbeat with a stethoscope. The woman is smiling at the doctor.

Molina Healthcare was founded in 1980 by an emergency room physician with a mission to provide quality health care to those who needed it, no matter their circumstances. Molina is committed to community service and has established a vibrant corporate social responsibility initiative to support the communities they serve.

Today, Molina Healthcare of Washington serves over 1 million members through government sponsored programs Apple Health (Medicaid) and Medicare D-SNP across every county in the state, and health plans through the WA Health Benefit Exchange in most counties. In Washington’s North Sound region, Molina serves over 130k members, including nearly 40k members in Whatcom County. They collaborate with community partners to eliminate access barriers and tackle health disparities to improve the health and lives of their members and communities.

Molina LogoAs part of this commitment, Molina provides a variety of resources on their website to help everyone on their health journey, including articles on their blog focused on a variety of health topics. The categories range from resources for addiction, help for allergies, and information on immunizations. In addition, Molina Medicaid members can earn gift card incentives for completing their annual preventive care. The Company also participates in our Healthcare Champions Sponsorship program, supporting health care for everyone. Unity Care NW is thankful for their support and partnership to build stronger communities in Whatcom County and beyond.




Puget Sound Energy – Bringing Light and Support to Our Communities since 1873

A mother and child look at a yellow school bus with "Early Learning and Family Services" written on it.
From gas lights to wind power projects, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has a rich history and deep roots in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to providing services to over 2 million residents in 10 counties, they are committed to partnering with local groups to create stronger more equitable communities for all.

Recently PSE provided a brand-new electric school bus to the Opportunity Council’s East Whatcom Regional Resource Center (EWRRC) for their East Whatcom County Mt. Baker Head Start program. The acquisition of this electric bus is part of PSE’s Up & Go Electric pilot program focused on equity in transportation electrification, one of PSE and the PSE Foundation’s many grants programs.

This bus, which PSE purchased from Blue Bird, comes with a dual-port level 2 charging station that PSE installed on the resource center property. The charging station will power the electric bus while the extra charging port will be available for other invited guests of the resource center.

PSE is working to advance the equitable adoption of transportation electrification in our region, and partnerships with community-based organizations enable them to build a robust EV network. They want to ensure that everyone, regardless of income and geographic location, can access the benefits of electric mobility.

PSE’s commitment to equitable access extends to a variety of projects and programs throughout the ten counties they serve. They are one of Unity Care NW’s Health Care Champion Sponsors, supporting our work to ensure everyone in our community has access to high-quality care even if they can’t afford it. Thank you, PSE, for your support and your efforts in so many communities across the Pacific Northwest.

When should I get an updated COVID vaccine?

When to get your updated COVID vaccine depends on your age, how many vaccine doses you’ve already gotten, and when you got them. The CDC has created an online tool to help determine when to get your next booster.

What are the updated vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

The updated vaccines now available from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the Omicron variant, which is the COVID virus infecting people today. They’re an additional dose for people who’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Novavax offers a booster dose of its COVID vaccine, but it doesn’t target Omicron. People 18 and older can get the extra Novavax dose if they’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Who should get an updated COVID vaccine?

All vaccinated people 6 months and older should get an updated vaccine when eligible.

Children 6 months – 4 years who got all 3 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccination series don’t need an updated vaccine at this time.

Where can I get vaccinated?

The state’s vaccine locator can be used by to find another available vaccination appointment locally.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Celebrating American Heart Month, Shining a Light on CHPW

A person ina yellow sweater and blue jeans holds a small red heart in their hands.

February is American Heart Month. A great time to strengthen your heart and start healthy habits. Did you know that your heart is the strongest muscle in your body? That’s why Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) provides support and resources to strengthen your heart and your health. Check out this article about Heart-Healthy Living on their website.

Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) has been providing health care to Washington families for more than 30 years. They are Washington’s first not-for-profit to serve Apple Health members. In 1992, Washington’s community and migrant health centers (CHCs), created CHPW to provide health insurance to people who were not being served by traditional insurance companies. From that beginning, they are governed by community organizations (Community Health Centers) like Unity Care NW which, in turn, are governed by community members. Today they remain a not-for-profit based in Washington providing health care for Washingtonians. Here in Whatcom county, they offer Apple Health (Medicaid) and Medicare plans.

CHPW By the NumbersCommunity Plan of Washington logo of a multicolored sunflower
CHPW is connected throughout Washington. The Community Health Plan of Washington network includes:

  • 21 Community Health Centers operating more than 190 clinics
  • More than 3,100 primary care providers
  • Nearly 15,000 medical specialists
  • Nearly 8,000 behavioral health specialists
  • Over 100 hospitals
  • More than 130 Affiliate Providers at 393 locations

They are also one of Unity Care NW’s Health Care Champion sponsors supporting our work to provide affordable whole person health care to everyone. Thank you CHPW for everything you do to create stronger and healthier communities!