In all the hubbub surrounding Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, I nearly forgot that Obama would be appointing a new Surgeon General today.
The announcement has just been made that Dr. Regina Benjamin, a family practice physician and the president of the Alabama Medical Association, will be the new Surgeon General. Dr. Benjamin, in addition to her other accomplishments, was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant last fall: you can read about her here. Most notable (to me) is her interest in providing health and preventative care to rural and underserved populations, which is sadly an increasing proportion of the country. I hope Dr. Benjamin’s experiences working–despite some long odds–in southern Alabama will inform the ongoing health care debate and help wake up legislators (and those few private citizens who are worried about SOCIALISM!!!) to the fact that it is less expensive to keep your citizens healthy than to treat them when they are sick.
Dr. Benjamin is only the third woman to officially hold the post of Surgeon General; Dr. Antonia Novello (1990-93) and Dr. Joycelyn Elders (1993-94) preceded her. Dr. Audrey Manley served as Acting Surgeon General from 1995-97.
Congrats, Dr. Benjamin.