Vivek Murthy to bring approach learnt at his immigrant parents’ clinic

Vivek Murthy

Son of Indian immigrants will help restore faith in America as a place of possibilities, says Biden.

Chosen to be America’s Doctor again, Vivek Murthy, “grandson of a poor farmer in India” says he will bring to his expanded role to fight the raging coronavirus pandemic an approach learnt at his immigrant parents’ clinic decades ago.

Formally introducing his health team in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday afternoon, President elect Joe Biden said he had asked Dr. Murthy to serve again as Surgeon General — a role he served under President Barack Obama — but with expanded responsibilities.

“A son of Indian immigrants, who raised their children to always believe in the promise of America,” Biden said Murthy “will be a key public voice on our covid response, to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine.”

“In my new, expanded role,” Murthy said, “I will work to bring a health perspective to our policies across government so that our schools, workplaces, and communities can be forces for strengthening our health and well being.”

“But the truth is that the best policies – and the best vaccines and treatments – will not heal our nation unless we overcome the fear, anxiety, anger, and distrust so many Americans are feeling right now,” he said.

“So more than anything, I will come to this role as a doctor — one who learned the most important lessons about medicine not in medical school, but in the clinic my parents opened when they first came to America as immigrants decades ago.”

“As a child, I saw how they took the time not just to diagnose illnesses, but to ask about their patients’ families and lives, happily poring over photos of children and grandchildren taken from wallets, listening deeply to people’s stories and struggles, often running well over the appointment time,” Murthy recalled.

“They taught me that the best doctor is not an authority figure who writes prescriptions, but rather a partner in healing, someone who sees patients in their fullest humanity and empowers them to take control of their health,” he said.

“That is the kind of doctor I have always tried to be,” he said. “And if confirmed, that is the approach I will take as I serve as America’s doctor.”

“I will dedicate myself to caring for every American, driven always by science and facts, by head and heart- and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India can be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of the entire nation,” Murthy said.

“That is a testament to the promise of America – one that I will work to fulfill every day as Surgeon General.”

Thanking Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “for your trust and confidence,” Murthy said, “When I left my role as Surgeon General, I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to serve again.”

“And in this moment of crisis, when so many Americans have fallen sick and lost loved ones, when people are losing jobs and struggling with childcare, I feel grateful to be able to do everything I can to end this pandemic,” he said.

“While this is a daunting task, we absolutely have what it takes to get the job done,” said Murthy noting, “We have world class scientists. We have courageous medical professionals who are risking their lives to care for the ill.”

“We have companies on the cusp of delivering vaccines, and we are blessed with generous, compassionate people all across America who are stepping up to help those who are struggling,” he said.

“If we all work together, we will overcome this pandemic and return to our lives,” Murthy said. “But covid-19 is not the only health crisis we face.”

“If anything, it has underscored a host of other epidemics that are devastating families and shortening lifespans: addiction, the opioid crisis, and spiraling mental health concerns; glaring racial disparities and high rates of diabetes and heart disease,” he said.

“These challenges are both caused and exacerbated by broader societal issues – from the economic strains families face to the disconnection and loneliness many of us feel,” Murthy said.

Earlier, introducing his “crisis tested” and “world class” health care team, Biden lavished high praise on Murthy calling him. “A renowned physician and research scientist.”

“A trusted national leader on health care, and for me, a trusted advisor during this campaign and transition,” he said noting, “This will be his second time serving as America’s Doctor, having served in this role under President Obama.”

“During his tenure, he took on some of the most pressing public health issues we face – from the opioid crisis to threats to America’s mental health,” Biden recalled.

As “Surgeon General – but with expanded responsibilities,” he said, Murthy “will be a key public voice on our covid response, to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine.”

“But he will also be a key advisor to me and help lead an all-government approach to broader public health issues – mental health, addiction and substance use disorders, social and environmental determinants of health, and so much more.”

“Above all,” Biden said, “A son of Indian immigrants, who raised their children to always believe in the promise of America,” Murthy “will help restore faith in this country as a place of possibilities.”


As ‘America’s Doctor’ Vivek Murthy to be ‘voice for science’ (December 8, 2020)

Indian American Vivek Murthy returns as Biden’s surgeon general (December 7, 2020)

Vivek Murthy named co-chair of Biden covid-19 advisory board (November 9, 2020)

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