For Rainy Atkins, being named a “Woman of Achievement” is the culmination – not only of her own dreams and passions – but of a family commitment to community health care.
A native of Southern California, Renate “Rainy” Atkins was the second of nine children. Her father was a doctor; her mother was a nurse. She has fond memories of tagging along on Sunday mornings as her father made his rounds at the hospital. “He always had three or four children in tow,” she said.
Although she initially dreamed of being a doctor like her father, Rainy won a scholarship to Northern Arizona University where she received her associate degree in nursing. While working and raising a family, she went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and eventually received a fellowship at the American College of Healthcare Executives.
To download a high-resolution photo,
right-click the image above and choose
"Save Target [or Link] As."
“From her early days, Rainy has focused on quality patient care and outreach to vulnerable populations,” noted her nominator. While living in Flagstaff, Ariz., Rainy had what she calls one of her most rewarding experiences – working as a neonatal and pediatric air transport nurse attending seriously ill infants and children on flights from rural Arizona to Flagstaff Medical Center. In Flagstaff, she held several positions as her career progressed from neonatal nurse to vice president of operations for Verde Valle Medical Center.
“Find your passion, and don’t make a quick judgment of what that passion might be,” Rainy suggests. “Be open to possibilities.” Faced with new responsibilities after a co-worker left, Rainy found that the new path ultimately led to her current role as chief operating officer at Southwest Washington Medical Center. Her accomplishments there include coordination of construction of the Kearney Breast Center and Firstenberg Tower.
Rainy has a special passion for helping low birth weight babies, many of whom are born to local families with few resources. Trained as a neonatal intensive care nurse, Rainy is determined that these babies and their mothers have access to quality medical care. She expanded the hospital’s nursery to include a neonatal intensive care unit, and she championed Southwest’s infant and pediatric care programs.
Rainy is a strong advocate for enhancing college and university nursing programs. She was instrumental in securing $100,000 from the hospital to support WSU Vancouver’s efforts to encourage more nurses to earn doctorate degrees and become nursing professors.
Motivated to provide adequate public health services for area residents, Rainy joined the Clark County Public Health Advisory Committee and currently serves as its president. The group advises the Public Health Department on areas of health care concerns and works on initiatives to improve the delivery of health care services, especially for low- income families.
Rainy also helped establish the Mental Health Summit, a group of key mental health leaders in Clark County. Mental Health Summit organizers are working to eliminate the duplication of mental health services and to build a new inpatient mental health facility. Rainy raised $120,000 to get the project started and is now working with colleagues to secure state support for the facility.
Her nominator wrote, “Rainy is a role model for others because she has led a life of extraordinary achievement while staying true to her values of integrity, compassion and courage to initiate change. Her goals are not about Rainy; they are about extending high quality health care to all.”
A wife, mother and grandmother, Rainy says she is honored by being named a Woman of Achievement. But she notes, “Awards are not given to one person; I am surrounded by mentors who are daily examples for me. There are heroes everywhere in your life. You just have to look for them.”