Whatcom’s low-income residents need affordable dental care. This clinic will help

Children’s dental appointments at Unity Care NW

Whatcom County, Wash., non-profit Unity Care NW offers low-cost dental care. Here's what to expect during a dental visit.
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Whatcom County, Wash., non-profit Unity Care NW offers low-cost dental care. Here's what to expect during a dental visit.

The new North Whatcom Health Center will open July 1 — bringing care to 9,500 patients in the northern part of the county.

Built at a cost of $15 million, the center at 6060 Portal Way in Ferndale, will provide medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory and dental services.

Non-profit Unity Care NW is the owner and operator.

Located near the Interstate 5 exit, the 23,500-square-foot clinic’s services will be an expansion of the care that Unity Care NW already offers in Ferndale.

Low-income adults in Whatcom County have consistently said that affordable dental care is one of the services they need most.

About 71 percent of low-income Whatcom County households that were surveyed said they couldn’t get dental care because it cost too much, while 60 percent said they had no insurance, according to the Opportunity Council’s 2018 Prosperity Project.

Unity Care NW has been among those working to provide more dental care, and the 12 dental spaces in its new space in Ferndale will allow for that expansion.

The center also will have the most comprehensive behavioral health services in Whatcom County, outside of Bellingham, according to Unity Care NW.

Unity Care 2
Unity Care NW will open its $15 million clinic at 6060 Portal Way in Ferndale on July 1. It will serve residents living in northern Whatcom County. Unity Care NW Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

“In Unity Care NW’s last strategic plan, we identified the need for a new, expanded health care facility serving north Whatcom County. That strategic plan didn’t sit on a shelf,” Des Skubi, executive director, told The Bellingham Herald. “The completion of the North Whatcom Health Center is the culmination of several years of planning.”

Unity Care NW provides services on a sliding-fee scale so people can get care regardless of their ability to pay. It also has clinics in Bellingham.

If you go

A ribbon-cutting is set for 3-6 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the North Whatcom Health Center, 6060 Portal Way in Ferndale. The event is open to the public.

It will include music, a tour of the new center and a chance to win an overnight stay at Semiahmoo Resort or The Inn at Lynden.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.