SEATTLE (Jan. 6, 2021) — Dr. Ben Danielson, longtime director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, the only community-based primary care clinic for Seattle Children’s Hospital, recently resigned his position due to institutionalized racism at Seattle Children’s. What it came down to, he told Crosscut, was “examining my own complicity as a representative of a hospital that does not treat people of color as it should.”
Dr. Danielson has dedicated his career to improving the health and circumstances of low-income children and families, both inside the Odessa Brown Clinic and in the community. He helped found the Washington Medical-Legal Partnership, which trains doctors to recognize when forces outside the examination room contribute to health problems, and he is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.
“Over his two decades at the Odessa Brown Clinic, Dr. Danielson has earned widespread admiration and respect for his unwavering commitment to advocating for and serving children of color and those living in low-income families,” reads a statement released Tuesday by the Washington State Nurses Association. “We at WSNA have been honored to work beside him on issues facing children in the health care system, and we are both saddened and inspired by his resignation.”
The union said its nurses who work at Seattle Children’s share his frustration with the “inadequate response from hospital leadership” to reports of racist language, microaggressions and discrimination at the hospital.
“It’s past time for hospitals to do more,” WSNA said, adding:
“WSNA calls on leadership at Children’s and hospitals around the state to work with us to address the issues of racism, equity and inclusion that infect our health care system. We urge hospitals to join with WSNA in examining nursing diversity data; strengthening protections in contract language; improving hiring, employment and HR practices; providing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, and seeking to recruit and retain a more diverse pool of nurses.”
TAKE A STAND — Community allies are also calling for action. Organizations and individuals are signing the Community Call for Reckoning with Racism at Seattle Children’s letter that calls on the hospital “to commit to institutional transformation and ongoing change toward eliminating racism in the organization and the systems in which you work.” Likewise, an online petition at Change.org is demanding racial justice at Seattle Children’s.