by Dr. Ben Danielson
In this time of a continued reckoning, communities are watching and listening closely. What you say and what you do are noticed. Subtle and overt assertions matter. Actions and acts of omission matter. Of all the outrageous numbness that you seem to possess during this time, it is perhaps most hurtful to hear you speak about yourself as an industry leader in equity in settings like the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic community town hall.
We hear your bafflement, your confusion, when you say it is hard to come to terms with the founded allegations of racism and other biases because you are considered a leader. Maybe you truly believe your words; maybe it is more of a public-relations-based defense.
Sometimes the strategy works. There are those who deeply want to believe you are the “goodest” of the good. There are those who want to avoid the pain of confronting the truth of your actions. It would be so much more comfortable to construct a universe wherein it is somehow more valid to choose words over deeds, where it is possible to choose against knowing the harm you have done and choose, instead, to embrace the comforting words “industry leader in equity.”
Continue reading OPINION: Dear Seattle Children’s Hospital, Please Do Not Call Yourself a Leader in Equity
by Jasmine M. Pulido
On Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 10 a.m., King County Equity Now (KCEN) hosted a community conference with speakers from a variety of local and state-wide Black-led organizations to make public their demands as an organizing coalition calling for Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) to compensate for harm done to Black people.
KCEN along with the Tubman Center for Health and Freedom, Black Community Impact Alliance, the African American Health Board (AAHB), and Surge Reproductive Justice are joining the growing demands for CEO Jeff Sperring and board of trustees chair Susan Betcher to resign from their posts as senior SCH leadership. Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center, the last Black Panther clinic in the nation, also expressed a desire to join the budding coalition during the call.
“I think you are going to begin to see Black folks from across the state getting to come together in alignment around this issue,” Candace Jackson from the AAHB said on the community conference call.
Continue reading KCEN Calls on Donors to Divest, Joins Growing Demands for Seattle Children’s Resignations
by Jasmine M. Pulido
About 100 employees from Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) participated in a one-hour silent protest in front of the hospital’s main campus on Sandpoint Way on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at noon. Smaller protests occurred concurrently at the Autism Center, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC), and the CURE center. The protests follow the conclusion of an independent assessment into systemic and interpersonal racism at the hospital, conducted by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Covington & Burling firm, and the initial decision by SCH to only release a summary of the recommendations from the investigation, not the findings. Following public outcry, SCH’s board of trustees released 11 main findings and detailed recommendations earlier this week, but community members say much more needs to be done.
The investigation was originally prompted after Dr. Ben Danielson, medical director at OBCC, resigned last November. After 20-plus years of service, Danielson cited multiple instances of racism he either experienced or witnessed as a medical provider at the hospital.
On Aug. 9, CEO Jeff Sperring and board chair Susan Betcher each released letters disclosing the summary of 11 findings statements as well as the detailed recommendations of Covington & Burling’s report. Yet despite releasing new pertinent information from the report, multiple calls for the resignation of the CEO and board chair are still being made based both on the premise that information was initially withheld to begin with under the guise of confidentiality and the stark findings of the investigation. Washington State BLM Alliance recently started a petition demanding both the resignation of SCH leadership as well as the release of the full report written by Covington & Burling.
Continue reading Seattle Children’s Hospital Workforce Protest for Full Covington Report
by Jasmine M. Pulido
On the morning of Aug. 2, Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance (WA BLM Alliance) sent a letter to Susan Betcher, chair of the Board of Directors at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH), demanding the immediate release of findings from Covington & Burling’s investigation of systemic racism within the hospital.
Continue reading WA BLM Alliance Demands Seattle Children’s Release Covington Investigation Findings
by Susan Fried & Emerald Staff
Around 100 people turned out for a rally, march, and vigil for Kaloni Bolton on Saturday at Westlake Park. The 12-year-old died after suffering an asthma attack at Valley Medical Center (VMC) Urgent Care in December and being forced to wait an extended period of time after being turned away from the first clinic before receiving treatment. Bolton went into cardiac arrest and passed away after two days on life support. Bolton’s family alleges her death was due to anti-Blackness, medical racism, and negligence.
Since Bolton’s passing, there have been consistent community demands for justice. Black Nurses Matter held a Renton march in Bolton‘s honor this spring. This past Saturday, July 24, the Westlake Black Health Equity Rally was hosted by The Breathe for Kaloni Foundation and Decolonizing Science, a podcast run by Ashley Paynter, a Black scientist currently obtaining their Ph.D. in the field of biological sciences. It was attended by many members of Bolton’s large extended family with one message: #BreatheForKaloni. Speakers included her cousin Zipporah White, her mother Kristina Williams’ attorney James Bible, and Claude Burfect, a vice president of the Seattle- King County Branch of the NAACP. After a rally, protestors marched through downtown Seattle to Capitol Hill. The march was followed by a vigil for Bolton back at Westlake Park.
To learn more, listen to Bolton’s family tell her story on podcast Episode #6 of Decolonizing Science and follow @breatheforkaloni on Instagram.
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Family and Community Remember 12-Year-Old Kaloni Bolton, Demand Justice
by Ashley Archibald
If you ask her family, Kaloni Bolton, 12, was a bubbly, peaceful person who kept everybody upbeat and uplifted. She was tough, always had an opinion and a personality that balanced the family out.
Bolton died on Jan. 1 after suffering an asthma attack on Dec. 29. Her family alleges that Bolton received substandard care from Valley Medical Center (VMC), a nonprofit health care provider that oversees two urgent care facilities in Renton that Bolton and her sister visited before Bolton was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“The entire system failed her, failed her family,” Lylia Nichols told a crowd of protesters on Saturday, May 8, outside of the first urgent care facility that Bolton accessed. “We hold Kaloni up because the system failed our whole community.”
Continue reading Black Nurses Matter March Highlights Need to Address Medical Racism
by Chamidae Ford
(This article is published in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week, which takes place every year from April 11–17. The week is intended to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the US; amplify community-driven policy, research, and care solutions; and center the voices of Black mamas, women, femmes, families, and stakeholders.)
Childbirth is often thought to be the most magical experience one can have. But for Black women, the road to motherhood can often be paved with horror due to the racism they face in the medical field.
Shayla Akande gave birth to a baby girl on January 24, 2021. Although her story ends with a happy and healthy baby, the birthing process wasn’t the smooth transition she had been hoping for.
Continue reading How Medical Racism Robs Black Families of Joyous Birth Experiences