March 1st, 2013
A frequent statement of mine is, “We need public health leadership that cares enough, knows enough, is willing to do enough, and will be persistent.” Surgeon General C. Everett Koop was just such a leader, for he was caring; he was competent; he was courageous; and he was passionately persistent.
Before he was a Surgeon General, he was a pediatric surgeon. This was before the field was well-established. But he cared about children and their health. He gave conjoined twins the chance to live independent lives by performing surgery to separate them before the art was well developed. He cared about the education of medical students and residents, and spent time educating and counseling them. His former students still tell stories of their interactions with him.
The Office of the Surgeon General is not political. The American people look to the Surgeon General for reliable information based on the best available public health science, not politics, religion, or personal opinion. A combination of presidential nomination, Senate confirmation, and science-based expertise all have resulted in the Surgeon General maintaining, in the minds of the American people, a place of authority. As Surgeon General, Koop spoke and wrote with authority.Read the rest of this entry »