There’s a signature moment in Dr. Patrick Archie’s earliest experience at Mid-Columbia Medical Center, an instant when the young doctor first realized he had discovered a special place to practice a truly different, deeply personal brand of patient care.
It occurred in 2008, the halfway point in the new Celilo Cancer Center hematologist/oncologist’s advanced medical training. Dr. Archie had taken a year off from training to recharge his physical and spiritual batteries and was working as a hospitalist at both Mid-Columbia and Providence Portland Medical Center, where he had completed his residency.
One morning Dr. Archie entered the room of a patient in her 80s, who was there alone, with no family to visit her. As he reviewed her medical chart and checked on her progress, an orderly delivered a breakfast tray to the woman, who looked down at the meal, shrugged and said, “I don’t think I have the strength.”
So Dr. Archie took off his white coat, sat down and helped her eat breakfast, taking a break from his duties as a doctor to just spend some time as a companion.
As he recalls the moment now he asks, “In what other hospital would I have the chance to do that?”
Not in the rapid-fire frenetic environments of the other medical facilities he had spend so much of his past years in. “In another setting I wouldn’t even have thought about doing it,” he says. “But I was at MCMC. It was just so natural, and it was amazing.”
The time spent with that elderly patient, and his early experiences at Celilo Cancer Center, have convinced Dr. Archie that he has settled in the perfect environment for pursuing his desire to make human connections in the best and the most difficult of situations.
“The medical team is not on an assembly line here,” he says. “We have a manageable number of patients and time to answer all of their questions. There’s a great emphasis at Celilo Cancer Center on providing the best possible personal care for our patients, and for me that’s what really matters.”
Dr. Archie says achieving that level of care requires that he be able to empathize with his patients. “I always ask myself the question, ‘If I were this patient, how would I want to be treated? What would I want to know and how would I want to be spoken to?’.”
The more clearly information is communicated the better, he adds.
“The scariest thing about cancer is what you don’t know. I try to maintain excellent relationships with all of my patients. We usually have such good conversations that most of their questions are answered before they leave.”
Dr. Archie says he strives to be the kind of doctor he would want his own mother to see. “I want to always give patients the attention they deserve and the best care possible.”
His residency training included a one-year rotation working in the Phil Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. He later completed a three-year fellowship in Houston at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, considered the leading cancer treatment facility in America.
There he won the 2012 Humanitas Award for Compassion in Patient Care, a fitting award for a doctor now practicing in a hospital known worldwide for its personalized care.
When Dr. Archie was considering joining Celilo he described the MCMC with a colleague who is a well-known expert in the field of physician-patient relationships. “You, of all the people I know,” the colleague told him, “will love a place like that.”
Dr. Archie is married, and he and his wife Abbie, are both musicians. His current musical passion is flamenco guitar; she plays piano
They have a black Labrador named Nash, whom they rescued from an animal shelter.
The couple would like to have a family someday, and Dr. Archie said that’s about all their circle of life will need to be complete.
“I want to be a good doctor, a good husband, a good musician and maybe a good father someday. If I try to do more than that, it starts to get weird. I’m gong to concentrate on those things and hope for continual improvement.”