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WSNA, others call on Seattle Children’s to address racism

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 is demanding racial justice at Seattle Children’s.

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