Today, Dr. Ben Danielson, senior medical director of Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC), was honored by the Simms/Mann Institute as a recipient of the Whole Child Award, a national recognition that honors extraordinary leaders in medicine and education. Launched in 2015, the Whole Child Award is given to individuals who are focused on a whole child approach to caring for children and their families.
On the Pulse sat down with Danielson to talk about this achievement and how OBCC, a community clinic located in Seattle’s Central District that provides medical, dental, mental health and nutrition services to families, approaches caring for the whole child.
What does OBCC mean to you?
The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic has been around for almost half a century. It was born out of this wonderful idea to really help empower communities in promoting the health of their most precious resources – their children. It’s the right marrying of priorities, ideals, ideas and people.
How does OBCC treat the whole child?
I think about the whole child as this evolving sense of how we approach well-being. It’s an integration of medical, mental and dental health into one healthcare system. The whole history of the clinic has been meeting families where they are, and providing care regardless of their ability to pay. It’s evolved over time to fully understand a child in context of their family, community, education, social determinants and resilience.
We need to understand and address the basic needs of the families we serve and develop ways to incorporate that understanding as part of our care. Whether it’s unraveling the mysteries of the early roots of behavioral problems or working together with the community to talk about where chronic diseases really begin, we’re finding unique ways to partner with groups to meet basic needs – things like food, nutrition, economic support and shelter.
We give out coats, boots and gloves to our patients in the winter time. We offer help and support to promote positive nurturing relationships. We have a medical legal partnership program to help families with unmet civil and legal issues. We do careful screenings for behavioral or developmental problems. We also incorporate nutrition into our care. Our wonderful dietary consultants meet with families to help teach them how to prepare foods and incorporate healthy choices into culturally traditional recipes.
We’re treating the whole community, the whole family and the whole child.
What does this recognition mean to you?
I am honored to receive this award and to know that the clinic’s work is appreciated on a broader scale. I’m proud of the people I work with every day. They are also the ones being recognized. It’s humbling.
You have these visions of how you want to transform your work. Some are hard to sell or to keep promoting. This form of validation reinforces our path. It keeps us courageous and helps us ask our peers and supporters to take a bigger bolder step along with us. Together, we can find more innovative ways to positively impact our community.
What’s the future look like for OBCC?
The future is bright.
Spend a few minutes in our waiting room and you’ll see a room full of smiles, spirit and potential. The families we serve and their children are full of resilience. It’s impossible not to be optimistic at a clinic like OBCC. It’s that resilience that reinforces me every single day, and it’s why I look forward to going to work.
We’re not going to be able to solve every issue on our own. We need to think about our community and the partnerships we can form to create innovative programs that will benefit our families and their children. This is the tradition of Odessa Brown. We’re going to continue to meet families where they are to help them thrive and grow.