“These are hard times,” says Dr. Ben Danielson, medical director of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC). “Times that call for us to be our better selves.”
Danielson knows hard times. He spent three years in foster homes. He grew up poor, often hungry. His mother said education was the best way out of poverty. He listened; he studied hard, earning scholarships to Harvard and to medical school.
During two decades as OBCC’s medical director – two decades of “deeply listening” – he’s learned that helping kids outside the clinic matters as much as helping them inside it. “It’s not enough to put a patch on a problem – treat a cold, give a vaccine, write a prescription. We need to address the challenges that keep families awake at night – challenges that would bring most of us to our knees.” One is hunger, which can cause asthma, hypertension and diabetes.
Another is gentrification, which pushes low-income families out of Seattle’s Central District, away from the clinic. “The community is saying it's too hard to get to us. We need to listen deeply – and respond.”
He’s excited about OBCC’s response: plans for a larger clinic, located in South Seattle near a light-rail stop for easier access. “We’re making a statement; we’re choosing to be part of the solution instead of wringing our hands.”
Danielson reflects: “I walk away from this clinic inspired and humbled every day.” He nods. “There’s no place in the world I’d rather be. That's why I say ‘yes’ to Odessa Brown and its amazing future.”
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