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Patti Atkins can make hospitals healthy

Business scene newcomer focusing on health care reform


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Patti Atkins has a past record of changing hearts and minds about hospitals and health care.

When it comes to achieving health care reform, Patti Atkins gets creative. That is why she is off to a fast start with her Lake Oswego-based agency. Atkins calls her new business “a leap of faith,” but she is bringing a strong record of accomplishment from her past career.

“I backed into it,” Atkins said. “I got a contract, started working and then realized I had an agency.”

Atkins’ client list already includes Care-

Oregon, Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization and the ALS Association of Oregon and SW Washington. She gets a strong recommendation from Woloshin Communications, for which she has collaborated on projects for the past 20 years.

Mara Woloshin, principal of the company, said, “Patti is a highly creative, versatile public relations strategist who has developed, implemented and directed marketing communications plans and campaigns for public, nonprofit and corporate clients.”

Explaining her own philosophy, Atkins said, “I like to work with my head and my heart. I like to help people who need health care the most.”

At this time, Atkins is concentrating as a public relations adviser on health care reform.

“It’s such a rapidly changing market,” Atkins said. “I started out in the high-tech world, and I figured out what else to do with my degree in public relations. Now I’m spending a lot of time with Columbia Pacific Care and helping them implement the changes they need to make.”

Perhaps the finest achievement of Atkins’ past career was changing public perception of Providence Seaside Hospital. It was a whale of a job.

“Seaside was on the verge of collapse,” Atkins said. “I had the opportunity to turn the situation around and keep 400 jobs in the community. It was a real challenge but a lot of fun.

“Seaside had a big communications problem. There was not high regard for the hospital. But the stories I heard from people dissatisfied with the hospital were 40 years old, and sometimes they were second-hand stories. I started focus groups in each community, and I told them, ‘Let me tell you it’s different there now. There are new employees and new values.’”

A subsequent survey showed that Atkins had changed the perception of Seaside Hospital more than 100 percent in a positive direction. Mission accomplished.

“They have an amazing little hospital now,” she said. “It’s completely safe.”

Shake-ups at Providence Health & Services caused Atkins to accept a buyout a few years ago, and this gave her more time to take care of her husband Larry, who suffers from ALS. But recently she was able to get more help from caregivers.

“I can go back to working and do what I love to do,” Atkins said.

Atkins is keeping busy with many projects, including starting a pain clinic, working with social service agencies on catching chronic health conditions early, putting out news releases for her clients, and working with the media.

To contact Patti Atkins, call her at 503 961-2535 or email her at patti_atkins@msn.com.

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