Found in Translation

Let's revisit the actual facts about why Unity Care is leaving by focusing on the words of Unity Care Executive Director Des Skubi. To see our translations, touch or click on the highlighted areas.

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. 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

The basics:

The Point Roberts taxpayers, through the Hospital District, own the clinic. Unity Care is contracted to provide services. Unity provides the staff, and they keep all patient fees and insurance reimbursements. The taxpayers, through the district, also pay Unity: this year, we are paying them about $176,000. The combination of patient-related revenue and tax subsidies is what fully funds the clinic.

The bottom line is that there's a fundamental conflict between the legal obligations of the Hospital District and Unity Care's business model. The Hospital District is subsidized by local taxpayers so all taxpayers are entitled to equal access. But Unity Care is a Federally Qualified Health Center provider ( That means they prioritize primary care and therefore serve their primary care patients preferentially. At our clinic, that sometimes means to the exclusion of others.

This is the point Skubi is making when he says that Point Roberts' needs do not align with Unity's model. Urgent care visits and treatment of patients who have not named the clinic as their primary care provider dilute Unity's primary care statistics. Skubi implies that this endangers Unity's Federally Qualified Health Center status, a risk they would not esnt to incur with the expensive Ferndale facility on the horizon. Not renewing the Point Roberts contract is a sound business decision for Unity Care.

Our coverage of the community survey results ishere.

Our coverage of the Unity Care Board's resolution to leave Point Roberts is here.

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