In 1982, a coalition of health professionals, community leaders and faith-based organizations identified unmet health care needs in Whatcom County, Washington, and founded Unity Care Northwest. Operating as a safety net clinic with three locations across the county, Unity Care provides a full range of high-quality and affordable services to low-income patients, including primary, dental, nutrition, and behavioral and mental health care.
Two Murdock Trust grants over the last several years have supported building renovations and expansions to allow Unity Care to better serve its clients. Today, Unity Care has been able to expand its services to provide integrated care to 1 in 10 residents in Whatcom County. One man’s experience shows the important role Unity Care plays in its community. Here is Bruce’s story
Bruce Kadar was an alcoholic, drug-addicted bartender. And for a few years in the early 2000s, Bruce was also homeless.
With the help of several local agencies, Bruce has been in recovery since 2005. He has addressed his addictions and has secure housing. He became certified in peer support at the Rainbow Center and later went to college for a human services degree for Chemical Dependency Counseling. He chose Unity Care as his health care provider about 14 years ago.
“I feel welcome” at Unity care, says Bruce. Unity Care is the “most willing to listen” about his health history. “People who work here do it because they care about the patients.” Bruce receives treatment for epilepsy, which he’s had since age 17, as well as for headaches and depression.
Several years ago, Bruce saw that Unity Care was seeking board members and jumped at the chance to give back to the community. As a board member, Bruce has championed the expansion of the Behavioral Health Department. He has also been instrumental in promoting Unity Care’s participation in Project Homeless Connect, which is a one-day event for people experiencing homelessness to receive dental and medical exams, counseling, health insurance enrollment assistance and other services.
Bruce’s background and experience give him unique insight into the struggles many other Unity Care patients face. He has been a board member for six years and intends to serve for another three, describing the board as “like family.”
Thank you, Unity Care Northwest, for serving all people, regardless of their ability to pay, and for improving the lives of so many in your community.