Category: Uncategorized

Large-Scale Community Vaccination Center at BTC

A community collaboration of healthcare providers, including Family Care Network, PeaceHealth, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Unity Care NW and the Whatcom County Health Department will operate a large-scale collaborative COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Bellingham Technical College.

The goal is to vaccinate up to 5,000 people at this site per week, depending on the reliability of weekly vaccine shipments from the state. The group is working diligently to finalize operations, staffing, logistics and other details.

At a time when the community’s healthcare professionals are under considerable strain, the assistance offered by BTC provides much needed resources for this project. In addition to hosting the vaccination site, students in BTC and Whatcom Community College’s nursing programs will help administer vaccinations.

The community vaccination clinic will abide by the Washington State Department of Health’s phased guidelines for vaccine eligibility. All parties are hopeful vaccine shipments will increase in the coming weeks.

All partners are finalizing logistics and operations related to the site’s launch, including an appointment scheduling system. Community members are asked not to call BTC with questions about vaccination scheduling. Updates about the community vaccination site, including launch date, hours of operation and how to book appointments, will be available on the Whatcom County Health Department’s website soon. Community members can also use the Vaccine Location function for the latest news on vaccine providers who are accepting appointments.

Find full details of the Community Vaccination Center and make an appointment here.

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 megan.stephenson@ucnw.org 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.

 

 

Unity Care NW Participating in the “Point in Time Count”

Unity Care NW is supporting this year’s Point-in-Time count by hosting a survey station in front of our 220 Unity Street facility, now through February 5th. The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness and represents a snapshot of persons experiencing homelessness in Whatcom County.

Participation in the survey helps our community advocate for funding from the federal government to support housing and homelessness programs right here in Whatcom County.

Patients with appointments who are experiencing homelessness can stop by to be included in this year’s count!

Wellness Classes for the New Year!

New virtual classes to help address your health goals in the new year!

  • Freedom From Smoking is a 7-week on-line class to help you quit and stay tobacco free. We’ll talk about the science and emotion behind addiction, strategies for quitting, and focus on your own reasons for going tobacco free. Call Megan at 360-296-7185 for more info and to register. Class starts Jan. 19th, 2-4pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lose to Win is a sustainable nutrition and physical activity program led by a YMCA coach. The one-hour classes provide a supportive network to work on similar goals when the going gets tough and to celebrate successes along the way! Must be 18 or older. $35/YMCA members; $50 non-members; scholarships available. Register with Tara at tmarshall@whatcomymca.org. Wednesdays Jan. 20 – April 7, 12:15-1:15 pm
  • Better Bones & Balance is a program to help improve balance and strength to avoid falls and maintain independence. Class includes a short talk and learning and practicing specific exercise.
    $35 program fee, scholarships available. Register online whatcomymca.org or at the Welcome Desk. Tuesdays and Thursdays,  Jan. 19-28, 11am – noon.
  • Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long supportive class for adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Must be 18 or older, and qualify via risk assessment or diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
    $420 year program fee; Unity Care NW patient discount available, email megan.stephenson@ucnw.org to apply.
  • LIVESTRONG is a physical activity and well-being program for adult cancer survivors to reclaim their total health. Must be 18 or older, in remission, and with medical clearance for participation.
    Free to new survivors, $25/month for LIVESTRONG alumni; scholarships available. Register with Tammy at tbennett@whatcomymca.org or (360) 733-8630 Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 11-March 31 11am – noon.
     

Bellingham Food Bank Drive-Up Food Distribution

Beginning Tuesday, December 1, Bellingham Food Bank will offer pre-packed food boxes at the updated drive-up locations.

How It Works

Folks may visit twice per week and may choose among all locations which they visit. They will join a car queue and when it’s their turn, volunteers will offer pre-packed food boxes without requiring person to person contact. There will be a bike and walk-up option as well. Each household represented in a vehicle may pick up for up to 2 families. Menstrual products, baby formula and diapers will be added to distributed items as availability allows.

Starting December 1
Tuesdays & Thursdays | 1-4 pm
Drive-Up Distribution, 1175 Jersey St

Ongoing
Wednesdays | 3-6 pm
Christ the King Church Parking Lot, 4173 Meridian St

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 enrollment@ucnw.org.

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.