Top Seattle Children’s doctor resigns, accuses hospital of racism

A leading doctor at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Seattle Children’s Hospital only primary care clinic, has resigned due to institutionalized racism at the clinic.

Dr. Ben Danielson, was a senior medical director at Odessa Brown for nearly 20 years. Danielson is also a holder of the Janet and Jim Sinegal Endowed Chair and founder of Washington Medical-Legal Partnership.

This November, however, Danielson resigned from Odessa following what described in a recent Crosscut article as racism toward colleagues and patients.

He said he witnessed racist remarks toward patients at the clinic that predominantly treats low-income patients and people of color.

Danielson told the website the decision to resign came down to "examining my own complicity as a representative of a hospital that does not treat people of color as it should." 

Danielson, also a tenure doctor at Odessa, told Crosscut it was a painful decision to leave a clinic he loves, but believes the clinic and system need to change. Danielson said other staff members were scared to speak out for fear of retaliation regarding the practices.

"The institution is replete with racism and a disregard for people who don't look like them in leadership," he told Crosscut.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, a group of community leaders, including doctors, stakeholders, and King County councilmembers, said in a letter to Seattle Children's CEO they are demanding an investigation and virtual meeting with the hospital.

In a statement to Q13 News, a Seattle Children’s spokesperson said the hospital is examing the recent allegations:

"We respect Dr. Danielson’s decision to leave his position at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) and are grateful for his over 25 years of service.

The issues raised are very serious and we are examining them. The Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees is engaged and developing a series of actions.

As an organization, we are committed to racial equity, diversity and inclusion while also holding ourselves accountable. We plan to show that commitment through our actions and thorough consideration of any claims of racism or bias."