Employee ensures equity for patients, equity for staff, equity for all

FINAL1Committed to removing barriers for her patients, Dental Supervisor Deborah DeQuier-Bowden ensures everyone who enters her clinic has the best customer service experience. While she’s worked at the Columbia Public Health Dental Clinic since January 2014, she has been with King County for 15 years. She has been passionate about including equity and social justice efforts throughout her work at every level.

“Equity and social justice comes from the heart,” she said. “It’s my goal as a supervisor –not as a person of color – to see these barriers.”

The Columbia Dental Clinic provides services to children, pregnant women and, most recently, adults. The majority of clients speak little English and the clinic relies on translators to help with the top languages spoken: Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic and Somali. Deborah mentions that educating staff is essential to providing each patient with the meaningful help they need.

“Staff need to be aware of the patient’s situation, and get the support needed to make their work successful,” she said. “This lets each client know ‘You are valued here’, and that’s equity.”

The variety of patients and the difficulties of running a public health clinic can be challenging. Deborah relies on her varied experiences in health care and her background in business to make the clinic both effective and welcoming to its clients.

“Creating process improvements and identifying problems, along with training staff, are valuable to being sure we bring the best services to each client,” she said. “When we do that we can make sure they have the best overall customer service experience.”

“The main goal is for everyone to look at the barriers present. Bringing equity and social justice to the staff as a way to help deal with clients then minimizes barriers for everyone.”

Deborah has been recognized for her equity and social justice efforts as a 2006 recipient of the Public Health Commitment to Diversity and Social Justice Award. She is also currently enrolled in the Equity and Social Justice Academy.