Unity Care NW is starting construction on a $15 million clinic to serve north Whatcom County.
The 23,500-square-foot clinic is expected to serve an additional 9,500 patients when it opens by summer 2019.
Unity Care NW provides dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services, along with primary care on a sliding-fee scale — to give services regardless of someone’s ability to pay. It has clinics in Bellingham, Ferndale and Point Roberts.
The project at 6044 Portal Way, near the Interstate 5 exit, would be an expansion of the care it already offers in Ferndale — providing more medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory and dental services.
Low-income adults in Whatcom County have said that dental care was one of the services they need most, and Unity Care NW has been among those working to provide more of it.
Called the North Whatcom Health Center, the new clinic will employ 60 people full time.
Unity Care NW had wanted to start construction in June 2017 but waited amid uncertainty caused by efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
"We are always keeping an eye on what happens with health care legislation. Right now, it seems that the ACA and Medicaid expansion in particular, will remain," said Chris Kobdish, director of Planning and Development for Unity Care NW.
Unity Care NW has been expanding and adding services as part of Obamacare, which provided access to health care for more people.
Community health centers, nationally, were a fundamental part of the federal health law.
Information about Unity Care NW is online at unitycarenw.org. How to donate to the $3 million fundraising campaign for its North Whatcom Health Center also can be found there.