Seattle Children’s Hospital (courtesy of Seattle Children’s)

Seattle Children’s Hospital (courtesy of Seattle Children’s)

Group demands accountability following Seattle Children’s racism investigation

King County Equity Now petition calls for resignations and community program funding.

Pro-equity advocacy group King County Equity Now hosted a virtual conference on Aug. 18 in which Black leaders and community advocates demanded accountability following recent reports of racism and health care inequality at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the clinics they operate.

Racism at these health care institutions came to the forefront in 2020 when medical director Dr. Ben Danielson resigned in an act of protest against systemic racism at the Central District’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, a clinic originally established with the mission of providing equitable health care to the Black community.

In wake of Danielson’s resignation, Seattle Children’s announced an independent investigation into the institution’s practices and policies related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion that would be conducted by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Now, after the investigation has been completed, the board of trustees at Seattle Children’s is refusing to publicly release the full report. After pressure from the public, a succinct summary of some of the findings of the investigation was released.

The document released contained one page of content with less than a dozen bulleted points regarding “Workplace Equity,” “Health Equity,” and “Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic” findings.

Some of the findings include: a lack of accountability impeding diversity, equity and inclusion; racial disparities in promotions, leadership positions and resignations; distrust and dysfunction in human resources contributing to an environment that “excludes and undervalues BIPOC workforce members;” racial disparities in when security is called on patients of color; and racial disparities in patient care that the hospital admits it has identified, but could not mitigate.

The document also claims that “Seattle Children’s did not adequately investigate or address a 2009 allegation that Dr. Jim Hendricks referred to Dr. Ben Danielson using a racist epithet.”

In response to the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the investigation they called a public relations move, King County Equity Now is issuing conditions and demands to the health care organization through an online petition.

Among those demands are the immediate firing of Seattle Children’s CEO Jeffrey Sperring and the resignation of Board Chair Susan Betcher.

Candace Jackson, founder and chair of the African American Health Board, called the manner in which Seattle Children’s handled the investigation and response to it a “slap in the face” to the community. She emphasized that the accountability-dodging institutional tactics used by the organization are not unfamiliar to the Black community.

The King County Equity Now petition also called for the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic to be “ceded” out of control of Seattle Children’s and under the control of the Black community as well as for Seattle Children’s to provide 10 years of operational funding to the clinic.

The petition also asked that Seattle Children’s invest $30 million in the Tubman Center for Health and Freedom capital campaign, $3 million in the African American Health Board to bring on leadership team and staff, and to invest 5% of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s endowment into the Black community.

Jackie Vaughn, co-director of Surge Reproductive Justice, said it is about a full reinvestment and redirection of funds into Black-led community programs.

Emijah Smith, King County Equity Now’s chief of staff, said the lack of funding to the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic violated the trust of the partnership between the community and the health care institution. She urged that funding be redirected into clinics and programs that actually serve the community.

“You must follow the leadership of the Black community,” she said.

Isaac Joy, King County Equity Now’s CEO, emphasized the importance of redirecting funding to Black-led organizations that can be accountable to the Black community. He said the issue of racial inequity in health care is not one limited to one organization, but rather a much larger issue.

“Our systems our sick,” said AyeNay Abye, CEO at Tubman Center for Health and Freedom. “They are making our community sick.”

In addition to the petition, Joy said supporters have sent around 3,000 emails to different staff and administrators at Seattle Children’s asking for accountability and equity measures.

“Hopefully they will respond to that and do the right thing,” Joy said.

Dr. Danielson spoke at the KCEN virtual conference on Wednesday. He said the desire for acknowledgment of the issue, recognition of the injustice and rationalization of the outrage is the “right” way for community members to feel.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Teaser
Well-Fed from the Federal Way Farmers Market: Lemon-lime meringue pie

Lemon-lime meringue pie (makes 9-inch pie, 8 servings) By Vickie Chynoweth Ingredients… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of South Sound News.
Boy shoots brother, 9, inside Federal Way apartment

The 9-year-old boy was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center.

File photo
Group of girls attack, pepper spray mother and daughter | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log May 11-17.

tsr
The Hub: Federal Way Higher Education Center brings opportunity, access to south Puget Sound students

An official ribbon cutting for the Federal Way campus was held on May 13.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Early design renderings of Memorial Stadium renovations (Screenshot from March 22 Federal Way School Board presentation)
Here’s how you can get a sneak peek at the new Federal Way Memorial Field

FWPS to host open house showcasing renovations May 19.

Most Read