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
After six months of investigation into systemic and interpersonal racism at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH), followed by considerable community backlash when findings from the assessment weren’t originally released, SCH’s board of trustees has now unanimously voted to publicly disclose Covington & Burling’s 11 finding statements as well as more detailed recommendations made in the report.
The Covington & Burling law firm and former Attorney General Eric Holder were hired by SCH to do an independent assessment on the hospital after racial allegations were publicly raised by Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation last November. An assessment committee, composed of three members of SCH’s board and four community members, were also brought in to oversee the independent investigation. The assessment committee read the entire report but signed nondisclosure agreements (NDA) which prevented them from divulging any information on its contents.
Last week, CEO Jeff Sperring and board chair Susan Betcher furnished only a summary of recommendations made by Covington’s report and declared an action plan to be delivered by Sept. 1. Details of the recommendations were omitted as well as the findings from the report.
But SCH employees posted a petition demanding for the findings to be released in full, public apologies to Dr. Danielson and the patients, families, workforce, and SCH community for harm done, and resignations of the CEO and board chair.
Continue reading Call for Resignations Persist Despite Seattle Children’s Release of Investigation Findings
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 Sakara Remmu
“We provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.” —Seattle Children’s Hospital mission statement
Every hospital, including Seattle Children’s, has one: a policy against obstruction of patient care.
Seventeen years ago, Children’s policy was a single page, with bullet points outlining violent and intimidating behavior against hospital employees by patients’ family members or friends.
The policy is a warning: our institution has the power to remove and ban you from this hospital if we feel your behavior interferes with our care. The document requires a signature of acknowledgement, which the hospital can use to invoke internal security or external police, child welfare, and the court system. The message was clear: you are here receiving life-saving — or not — care. On their terms.
Continue reading OPINION: The Legacy of Seattle Children’s: Khabir Rasaan
by Beverly Aarons
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the United States 37th in overall quality of healthcare, right behind Dominica, Denmark, and Chile, but way behind our northern neighbor Canada, which ranked 27th, and our European ally, France, which ranked number 1. More babies per capita die (5.9 per 1000 births) within days (or weeks) of being born in the United States than in Iceland, Finland, and Japan combined. In Seattle, there are persistent racial disparities in healthcare – 6.9 Black babies die per 1,000 births compared to 4.3 deaths per 1,000 white babies born, and gaining access to quality healthcare informed by facts, not racist controlling narratives, is almost impossible. In a recent survey of medical students, 50% believed that Blacks experienced less pain than whites because of biological differences.
Black physicians are less likely to hold these kinds of biases, but there are only 45,534 active physicians identified as Black in the United States compared to 516,304 white physicians, 157,025 Asian physicians, and 53,526 Hispanic physicians, so finding a Black physician or medical institution operating with an anti-racist lens might be impossible for most of the 46 million Blacks in America. This is why Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation as the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic is so significant to Seattle’s Black community.
Continue reading Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic: A Glimpse Back May Offer a Path Forward
by Elizabeth Turnbull
As dry streets disappeared under fluffy layers of snow last weekend, two nurses at Seattle Children’s Hospital made sure one young patient could experience the weather along with the rest of Seattleites.
Chebar, 16, had only seen snow twice before but a recent fracture in her leg, following complications from a bone marrow transplant two years ago, meant that she was going to have to be creative to get the full snow experience.
Continue reading She Couldn’t Go Outside, So Nurses Brought the Snow to Her
by Adana Protonentis and Jasmine M. Pulido
In the weeks since Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation from the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) was made public, there has been an outpouring of shock, grief, anger, and loss from the community he served. Running consistently through these messages have been calls for accountability. But what does that mean?
“True accountability is not only apologizing, understanding the impact your actions have caused on yourself and others, making amends or reparations to the harmed parties; but most importantly, true accountability is changing your behavior so that the harm, violence, abuse does not happen again.” — Mia Mingus
In the United States, accountability is often transactional. Our criminal legal system is an example: Someone commits a criminalized act, they are assigned a punishment (jail or prison time, restitution, community service), they complete the punishment, and the case is closed. There are collateral consequences that continue to punish the “offender” for years afterward, and those who were harmed rarely find closure. The wound cannot heal. In this version of accountability, the community is not centered. There is a transaction between a system and an individual. The individual is punished, but no one is made whole.
Continue reading Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Version of Accountability Fails to Prioritize Healing of Odessa Brown Families
by Susan Fried
The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and accompanying events, hosted by Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition (Seattle MLK), is one of the longest-running MLK Jr. Day celebrations in the country. This year, Seattle MLK adapted to the realities of COVID-19 and, instead of the usual job fair and rally held inside Garfield High School, the 39th-annual event was held entirely online and outside. In-person events on January 18 began in the parking lot in front of Garfield High with a rally that included a speech by Sean Goode, executive director of Choose 180 — an organization designed to help keep youth out of the criminal justice system — as well as performances by singers Sydney Coleman and Nyshae Griffin, and a presentation of a plaque honoring long-time Seattle MLK committee member, Tony Orange, given to his wife. Then, about a thousand people marched downtown to 4th Avenue and held another small rally.
Continue reading Seattle’s 39th Annual MLK Jr. March and Celebration
On their way downtown, the marchers stopped briefly at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic to show respect for Dr. Ben Danielson, the former senior medical director there, who recently resigned due to allegations of institutional racism at parent organization, Seattle Children’s Hospital. The marchers then continued down Yesler Way to 4th Ave. where another small rally was held, highlighting and critiquing the juvenile justice system, with speeches by civil rights attorney Sadé Smith and performances by D’Mario Carter and E-Rich.