In the midst of the soap opera that is the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Prez 44 has announced his new pick for Surgeon General. Dr. Regina Benjamin, a southern African American female was introduced at a press conference earlier today. From the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama turned to the Deep South for the next surgeon general, choosing a rural Alabama family physician who made headlines with fierce determination to rebuild her nonprofit medical clinic in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Dr. Regina Benjamin is known along Alabama's impoverished Gulf Coast as a country doctor who makes house calls and doesn't turn away patients who can't pay _ even as she's had to find the money to rebuild a clinic repeatedly destroyed by hurricanes and once even fire.
"For all the tremendous obstacles that she has overcome, Regina Benjamin also represents what's best about health care in America, doctors and nurses who give and care and sacrifice for the sake of their patients," Obama said Monday in introducing his choice for a job known as America's doctor.
He said Benjamin will bring insight as his administration struggles to revamp the health care system:
Saying she "has seen in a very personal way what is broken about our health care system," Obama said Benjamin will bring important insight as his administration tries to revamp that system.
Her resume swerves off the path of the traditional Ivy-Leaguer Obama has gathered around him but the highlights are no less impressive:
A graduate of Xavier University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Dr. Regina Benjamin chose to return to the region that she grew up in, starting a family practice in Bayou la Batre, Alabama (a small shrimping village along the gulf coast). After several years moonlighting in emergency rooms and nursing homes to keep her practice open, and with an MBA from Tulane under her belt, Dr. Benjamin converted her medical office into a small rural health clinic dedicated to serving the large indigent population in her community.
Her extraordinary dedication and self-sacrifice have already won Dr. Benjamin national recognition. In 1995, she became the first African-American woman, and the first person under 40, to be elected to the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees. Dr. Benjamin also serves on the Board of Physicians for Human Rights.
Dr. Benjamin is a 1998 Mandela Award Winner, a former Kellogg National Fellow, has been featured as ABC Television's Person of the Week, and in 1996 was chosen by CBS This Morning as Woman of the Year.
I think Obama recognizes the crazy uphill climb ahead to fix the healthcare system and decided he needed some who has been down at the ground-level to bring a human touch to the effort. Dr. Benjamin's father died of diabetes, her only brother died of AIDS and her mother died of lung cancer. No one has to tell her how far we still have to go to eradicate disease in this country.
You can count on the right wingers to go completely around the bend with this one, the Administration is already a little too "flavorful" for the wing-nuts. They don't have to love it but they will have to live it, I guarantee Obama has had all the due diligence in the world done before making this decision.
As the daughter and sister of African-American physicians, I am giddy to see the positive representation on a national level. Good luck, Dr. Benjamin, you're gonna need it!
So what do you think of Dr. Benjamin as Surgeon General Nominee? Are we truly entering a new era of diversity in the highest level of government?