Seattle Veterinary Outreach
My name is Chahna Yagoda Ekström, which is a mouthful but reflects my cultural heritage, New York Jew, and my adult life, which involves having married a Swede after spending a year working abroad. An interest in multiculturism has imbued my life and made me who I am today, a well-traveled veterinarian with a strong interest in how we all interconnect, human and animal.
I attended Cornell College of Agriculture from 1983 to 1987, spending my junior year abroad in Scotland to study at Edinburgh. After graduation, I worked as a guest researcher in a combined post between the Royal College of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacia, both located in Uppsala, Sweden. In the fall of 1988, I returned to Cornell to study Veterinary Medicine, graduating with honors in 1992. The past 31 years have been full of adventures in Private Practice and raising a family. In addition to the children we birthed, we parented many foster children, which brought both joy as we got to love these beautiful souls, but also sadness as we saw first-hand gross inequities in our society.One of my proudest accomplishments is that I founded a children’s dental health outreach in rural Indigenous Nicaragua. I had arrived on the Miskito coast working as a veterinarian through another charity, but somehow pivoted to a fundamental need, and now, 16 years later, we have consistently and positively impacted dental health for over 6000 children.
When our youngest child moved out of the house in 2019, our family closed our fostering license, and I launched into a new endeavor, a One Health project whose mission was to provide mobile veterinary care to pets of our unsheltered neighbors as a stepping-stone to improving access to healthcare for people and pets alike. The need is great, and the work is joyful. The coaching and support our team is receiving from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation have been essential in developing and refining this Health Equity Outreach.Learning, connection, innovation, and love are at the center of who I am, so I am thrilled to be part of the 2020 cohort of Clinical Scholars who envision a future with better equity in health and well-being for us all.