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Angels appear

Financial counselor Lynnette Basiou (left) felt glad to help Pam Levens through a tough time.

Providence Willamette
Falls Medical Center

Providence Willamette Falls provided $9,924,000 in community benefits in 2010, including $4,795,000 in free or reduced-cost care to patients in need.

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Struggling to keep up with her house payments, Pamela Levens took in roommates at her Oregon City home, with mixed results.

"Tell me, do I have the worst luck?" she'd lament to friends when a tenant would skip out on the rent. "Well," one pal inevitably would reassure her, "at least you have your health."

Last year Pam had to correct her friend. At first, Pam thought the fever, chills, nausea and abdominal cramps were the flu or food poisoning, yet the pain and other symptoms only grew worse. Finally a doctor diagnosed her with diverticulitis, a serious inflammatory condition of the colon. She would need major surgery.

"I wasn't nervous about the surgery at all," Pam says, but her financial well-being was another matter. Her sales job at a department store - a career she loves - provides modest pay and minimal health insurance. Divorced, she lives mostly off her IRA and fears losing her house.

To her despair, Pam learned that her health insurance would pay just a tiny fraction of her bill at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center. She sought help and a listening ear from hospital financial counselor Lynnette Basiou.

Pam was getting dressed to leave the hospital that December morning, worrying, wincing with postsurgical soreness, when Lynnette knocked on the door. The counselor had some news: Providence would cover 100 percent of her hospital bill.

"So, huge relief," Pam recalls of that emotional moment. "Huge."

"My angel" is how she describes Lynnette. "She definitely was very warm and sweet and kind, and just there," says Pam, who has her health back now. "And she went to bat for me when I thought nothing could be done."