The 2016 Leaders in Health Care Awards: Outstanding Achievement in Community Outreach

Winner: Julia Colson, Seattle/King County Clinic; Silver Award: Swedish Community Specialty Clinic Dental Program

February 25, 2016

Karen West


Julia Colson
Project Director, Seattle/King County Clinic, Seattle

For the past several years, Julia Colson has helped bring free dental, vision and medical care to nearly 8,000 people in a safe and respectful environment. She is the project director for Seattle/King County Clinic, a large-scale, volunteer-driven free clinic event that has taken place at KeyArena during a four-day period in October 2014 and October 2015. The patients seen were primarily the working poor who waited in line overnight at Seattle Center to be admitted. Discussions and fundraising are under way to determine whether the event can be held again this October.

More than 100 partner organizations across the region participated, including providers of lab services, software designers, translation services, vaccines and dental equipment.

When any one of us is in need of health care, we become vulnerable, Colson says. Despite all of the advances in medicine, technology and system efficiencies that leaders work so diligently to create, at the core of it, we as patients seek authentic human connection, respect, dignity and compassion at all stages of our health care experience. Staying connected to that compassion and purpose is something I hope all leaders in health care strive to achieve.

Swedish Community Specialty Clinic Dental Program

The Swedish Community Specialty Clinics dental program, which has provided complex oral surgery care for more than 1,800 low-income adults, is a partnership among the Seattle-King County Dental Society, Project Access Northwest, Seattle Special Care Dentistry, King County Community Health Clinics and Swedish Medical Center. The clinic, first of its kind in the Puget Sound region, has provided more than $2.4 million worth of free dental care since its inception in 2012. With more than 30 dentists and oral surgeons volunteering their time and expertise, the clinic is able to provide complex dental care five days a week at no cost to eligible low-income patients.