Seattle Veterinary Outreach
My name is Chahna Yagoda Ekstrom, which is a mouthful, but reflects both my cultural heritage, which is 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 in located in Uppsala, Sweden. Fall of 1988 I returned to Cornell to study Veterinary Medicine, graduating with honors in 1992. The past 28 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 unending joy and sadness to our existence by poignantly exposing the gross inequities in our society.
One of my proudest accomplishments is that, rather bizarrely, 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, 12 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, we 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 will receive from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation is going to help immensely in developing this program to success so it may be duplicated for use in other urban areas with a large unhoused population.
Learning, connection, innovation, and love are at the center of who I am, so I am thrilled to be joining the 2020 cohort of Clinical Scholars who are envisioning a future with better equity in health and well-being for us all.