How to Get Care (SAFE)

Everything you need to know on how to get care for you and your family.

Appointment Information

  • Write the time of your appointment on your calendar
  • Make sure you have transportation to and from the health center. Medicaid patients may arrange transportation 48 hours in advance by calling Northwest Regional Council’s toll free number: (800) 860-6812. (See Getting to Your Appointment for more details.)

Each visit is scheduled so that we can care for multiple patients throughout the day. If you have multiple issues to discuss or need longer than the scheduled appointment time, you may need to schedule another appointment.

Making an Appointment

To make an appointment, please be ready to provide the following information:

  • Patient’s name and date of birth
  • Your name (if you are calling for the patient)
  • A current phone number where you can be reached
  • Whether the visit is urgent, routine, or follow-up
  • Patient’s insurance information, if any
  • Whether the patient will need an interpreter

When you have all of this information, please call to schedule an appointment:
Bellingham and Ferndale: (360) 676-6177 or toll-free (877) 235-6850


Appointment Cancellations and “No-Shows”

It is very important that you keep your scheduled appointment. If you must cancel or re-schedule your appointment, please call us at (360) 676-6177 at least 24 hours in advance. When you miss an appointment or cancel less than 24 hours in advance, that means that someone else who needs care has to wait longer to be seen. You can leave a message at that number after hours.

If you call to cancel the day of your appointment, don’t call to cancel, or don’t show up for your appointment, it is considered a “no-show.” Multiple missed appointments or “no shows” may result in disciplinary action, including being placed on a “Standby Basis” for future visits, or in some cases, dismissal from our health care practice.

Medical “Check-in Appointments” and “Provider Appointments”

Each time you schedule a medical appointment with Unity Care NW, we will schedule you two separate appointments:

  • Your Check-in Appointment will be with one of our receptionists who will make sure all the appropriate paperwork has been completed. Your Check-in Appointment is scheduled 15 minutes prior to your Provider Appointment.
  • Your Provider Appointment is the time you will spend with your provider.

It is important that you arrive for your Check in Appointment on time so that your Provider Appointment is not delayed. If you are late for your Check-in Appointment, you may be asked to reschedule your Provider Appointment or be placed on ‘stand-by’, which means if/when there is a cancellation, you can still be seen.

What to Bring to Your Appointment

  • Your insurance card
  • Your proof of household income (see Questions Asked at Check-in on the next page for information about why we ask all patients to provide this information)
  • Minimum co-pay or Sliding Fee Discount payment for each visit

Also important for medical appointments, please bring a list of your medications, including the doses and amounts left of each medication, or you can bring all of your medications in a bag.

Questions Asked at Check-in

We are required to request financial information from all patients. Unity Care NW receives grants to help lower the cost of our services. These grants allow us to offer more services and to provide a Sliding Fee Discount Program to those who are eligible. In order to offer those discounts as well as get and keep these grants, we must report information about our patients.

Our Sliding Fee Discount Program requires that we collect the following information from those patients applying for program eligibility:

  • Household income information
  • Household size

In addition, grants that fund our services require that we also collect the following information from all patients:

  • Household income information
  • Household size
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Age
  • Housing information
  • Insurance information
  • Veteran status

In regard to household income information, we ask that you bring information you have on the following types of income you receive:

  • Most recent employment paystubs showing income (wages, salaries, tips and commisisons) for the past 30 days
  • Previous year’s IRS 1040 personal/selfemployment tax return showing net selfemployment or business income
  • Most recent unemployment paystubs showing income for past 30 days
  • Current year Award/Benefit Letter from other sources (Social Security, Veteran’s Benefits)
  • Proof of other types of household income (alimony/spousal support, retirement and pension income, Investment and rental income, per capita distributions from tribal gaming).
  • Two months of most recent bank statements (all accounts)
  • If you have no income, you can ask a receptionist for a self-attestation of no income form.


Unity Care NW respects your privacy

We understand that your personal information is very sensitive. We will not disclose your information to others unless you tell us to do so, or unless the law authorizes or requires us to do so.



If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital at 2901 Squalicum Pkwy., Bellingham. Some examples of life-threatening emergencies are:

  • Drug overdose
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Poisoning
  • Chest pain
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Broken bones
  • Severe burns or cuts
  • Loss of consciousness (will not wake up)
  • Severe shortness of breath (not able to talk)

Not Sure If It’s an Emergency?

If you are not sure if you should go to the Emergency Room, call us first during business hours at (360) 676-6177.

We can usually see you within 24 hours and help you avoid the long lines and high costs of emergency room visits.


After-Hours Care

If you or a family member need care when Unity Care NW is closed, call our after-hours nurse, an employee of the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center Community Care Line, at (800) 607-5501. Or, call the Community Health Plan of Washington’s Nurse Advice Line at (866) 418-1002. The nurse will listen to your health concerns. The nurse will help you decide what steps to take next.

Providing Care to Underage Patients

For most medical care and all dental appointments, patients under 18 years of age need a parent or legal guardian with them at their appointment to consent to care. We require written or verbal permission for the child to be seen without their legal guardian present, except in the circumstances outlined below.

Washington State law allows people under age 18 to give consent for certain types of care. Diagnostic and treatment information for these types of care will be kept in strict confidence. We will not share this information without the patient’s permission.

  • Age 14 and older may seek care for sexually transmitted infection (STIs), including HIV.
  • Age 13 and older may seek care for outpatient drug and alcohol treatment services.
  • Age 13 and older may seek care for mental health treatment.
  • Any age may give consent for birth control and reproductive care.

Unity Care NW providers encourage young people to talk to their parents or guardians about their health

A Note to Parents

We will do everything possible to help your child have a positive experience during their visit. You can help too. Tell your children good things about coming to our health center and taking care of their health. If your child is fearful, it will make it more challenging for both you and your care team to meet your child’s health care needs. Help us get your children off to a good start so they can enjoy a lifetime of good health.

Test Results

Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) may recommend follow-up tests. You may be referred for:

  • Blood work and/or other tests at a laboratory
  • X-rays or imaging services
  • Tests or follow-up at an outside provider

Before you use an outside service, you should make sure that it is covered by your insurance. If your insurance does not cover the service, you will be responsible for payment.

The results of the tests will be sent to your Primary Care Provider here at Unity Care NW. We will notify you of abnormal results and let you know if you need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your Primary Care Provider. You may also view all of your lab results through our online Patient Portal.

Referrals to Specialty Providers

Unity Care NW can manage your care best when your referrals to specialty providers are made by your PCP. If any services provided by a specialist are not covered by your insurance, you will be responsible for those costs. Unity Care NW will not be able to assist you with payment of those charges.

In addition, your insurance may require you to get approval before they will pay for the specialist. Unity Care NW referral staff can contact your insurance company for you and help you with this.

For uninsured patients, Unity Care NW may be able to arrange discounts for lab work and specialty consultations, including diagnostic radiology. To receive discounts for these services, you must be eligible and apply for Unity Care NW’s Sliding Fee Discount Program.