Unity Care NW responds to decision to cut ties with hospital district

Letter from Desmond Scubi, Executive Director with Unity Care NW

July 3, 2018

For over a decade, Unity Care NW has provided primary and urgent care medical services to the Point Roberts community through a contract with the Point Roberts Hospital District. After several months of thoughtful discussion, the Board of Directors of Unity Care NW has decided not to renew its contract with the Point Roberts Hospital District to provide clinical services in 2019 and beyond.  We will maintain services and continue to care for our Point Roberts patients through the end of 2018.

This has been a difficult decision knowing the impact to our patients, the Point Roberts community, and staff. We thank our patients for entrusting us with their care, and our staff for the care and customer service provided to the community.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center, our mission is to break down barriers to primary care for underserved and disadvantaged populations. We take that mission seriously and have dedicated 10 years to trying to make the model work in Point Roberts, at times committing our own resources to fund deficits and expand services. We have found, however, that as a whole, Point Roberts’ patients are more likely to be commercially insured or covered through Medicare and are frequently only seeking urgent care from the clinic rather than primary care. This doesn’t align with our model as a Community Health Center and has created challenges to our approach to health care which could impact reimbursement and the sustainability of our services.  Additionally, there has been significant community turmoil surrounding the Hospital District and clinic services that has consumed a great deal of administrative time and energy, proportionally far greater than the people served and visits provided.

With the start of construction on a major new facility in Ferndale which requires administrative resources and which, upon completion next year, will be able to accommodate those currently served in Point Roberts if they so choose, we have concluded that that Hospital District has the opportunity now to find a contractor that is a better fit for the community.

Our current contract with the Point Roberts Hospital District expires at the end of the year. Unity Care NW will work with the Hospital District to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible. If alternative solutions are not yet in place by year-end, we will consider operating the clinic on a month-to-month, short-term basis, provided we are still able to staff and financially sustain it.

We thank the Point Roberts community for the years of collaboration we have enjoyed.

Desmond Skubi

Executive Director

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