Biden’s Indian American nominee tries to live by lessons embodied by his immigrant parents.
Vivek Murthy, President Joe Biden’s Indian American nominee for Surgeon General has vowed to make helping to end the Covid-19 pandemic as his highest priority living by the lessons embodied by his immigrant parents.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Murthy recalled how his parents Hallegere and Myetraie Murthy after immigrating to the the US set up a small medical practice in their community in Miami.
“As a child, I watched them make house calls in the middle of the night and wake up early to visit patients in the hospital before heading to their office,” he said at his confirmation hearing Thursday.
“They attended birthdays, weddings, and funerals for their patients, always there in the moments that mattered because they saw their patients as family, and that’s what you do for family.”
“I have tried to live by the lessons they embodied: that we have an obligation to help each other whenever we can, to alleviate suffering wherever we find it, and to give back to this country that made their lives and my life and the lives of my children possible,” said Murthy.
Murthy was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, to immigrants from Karnataka, India. When he was three-year-old, the family relocated to Miami.
“This is a moment of tremendous suffering for our nation,” he said noting, “More than half a million people have lost their lives to Covid-19, including beloved members of my own family.”
“Many more are facing long-term health consequences. And millions of Americans are experiencing secondary impacts on their health – from missed preventive care, to stressful financial struggles, to anxiety and depression.
“If confirmed as Surgeon General, my highest priority will be to help end this pandemic, work I’ve been doing over the past year with state and local officials, schools and universities, businesses, health care providers, and others,” Murthy said.
Murthy said he had seen first-hand the importance of providing clear, science-based guidance to Americans on how to protect themselves and others.
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“And I know how urgent it is that we communicate clearly about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and get them to people as quickly as possible, particularly those in underserved rural communities and communities of color.”
“But as we address Covid-19,” Murthy said, “we cannot neglect the other public health crises we face, crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic: particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness, and glaring racial and geographic health inequities.”
During his prior service as Surgeon General under then President Barack Obama, Murthy said he “saw firsthand how these challenges are destroying lives and devastating families in every corner of this country.”
Murthy said he “listened to and learned from people in rural communities in Oklahoma and Alaska and in big cities, including Indianapolis, Indiana, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“And their stories are what led me to issue the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health and to launch a national education campaign on opioids and safe prescribing.
“But we have so much more to do, and if confirmed, I will work tirelessly to address these crises,” Murthy said doing “so guided always by the very best science.”
Murthy said he knows “the challenges before us are daunting. But if confirmed, I will never forget that at its essence, the role of the Surgeon General is that of a doctor – one charged with serving every single American.”
“I learned as a doctor to approach each patient with both head and heart – science and compassion – recognizing that both have the power to heal.”
“I learned to respect the uniqueness of each patient, recognizing that solutions must be tailored to each individual,” he said.
“And I learned to listen deeply to the patient in front of me, to look beyond any labels, and to see that person in their fullest humanity, knowing they were someone’s mother, father, grandparent, child, sibling, or friend.”
“The most important job of a doctor is to help patients heal,” Murthy said. “And if confirmed, that will be my mission as Surgeon General – to do whatever I can to help heal our communities and our nation.”
Murthy is the founder of Doctors for America, which lobbied for Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. The group now has 18,000 physicians and medical students across the country as members.
After earning his BA in biochemical sciences and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1997, Murthy received his MD from Yale School of Medicine and his MBA from Yale School of Management.
As an 18-year old freshman at Harvard, Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide, a non-profit organization aimed to raise HIV/AIDs education in the US and India, with his sister Rashmi.
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