Hoosier could be surgeon general


South Bend Tribune

The country’s next surgeon general could be the man described as someone who “has his hands on the pulse of what’s going on in communities” and who “gets right out there at the grass roots levels and really identifies with the folks he needs to serve.”

He’s also been compared to former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and praised for his ability to connect with families.

Here’s yet another description of the recently announced nominee for the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the U.S. federal government: Hoosier.

Jerome Adams, selected by President Donald Trump to serve as surgeon general, is Indiana’s state health commissioner. He was appointed to the position in 2014 by then-Gov. Mike Pence (and reappointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb). He would replace Sylvia Trent-Adams, acting surgeon general since Dr. Vivek Murthy was asked to resign.

In a relatively short time, the Indianapolis anesthesiologist has overseen a major health crisis that made national headlines: the HIV outbreak linked to intravenous drug use in southern Indiana. Adams has drawn praise for his response to the crisis. The director of the Marion County Public Health Department, who has worked with five different state health commissioners, told the Indianapolis Star that what stands out about Adams is his “ability to connect with culturally diverse people, from those in vulnerable populations to high-powered academics.”

Adams has been credited with persuading Pence, a long-time opponent of needle exchange programs, to allow Indiana counties to create such exchanges to contain the spread of the disease. “We wouldn’t have syringe exchange if it wasn’t for him,” said Carrie Lawrence, a public health researcher at Indiana University who helps implement syringe exchange programs throughout the state.

Beth Meyerson, co-director of Indiana University’s Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, believes Adams will have influence working with now-Vice President Pence on a national level, too.

“He will navigate (Washington), I suspect, the same way that he did in Indiana, which is to listen to communities, work with several partners across the arena and bring public health evidence to the table again as an advocate for community health.”

Even groups that have been critical of efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have praised the Adams nomination. Such consensus would be an advantage for America’s leading spokesperson on matters of public health. The numerous health challenges facing this country are too important to be bogged down in politics. Adams, a medical professional known for his people skills and ability to listen, sounds like the right man for the job.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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