Infectious Disease

The surgeon basic resigns at Biden’s request

January 20, 2021

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Jerome M. Adams

General surgeon Jerome M. Adams, MD, resigned from his position after being requested to do so by the President’s staff Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to the surgeon’s Twitter account.

The motion was made in the hours before Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

“It is [sic] was the honor of my life to serve this nation [sic]and I will do everything I can to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health, “Adams said in a January 20 post.

During his tenure, Adams helped manage public health responses to hurricanes, addressed e-cigarette and marijuana use among adolescents, and was often viewed as a frontrunner in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I wasn’t always right – because it wasn’t anyone and this virus continues to humiliate us all – but I’ve always been sincere in my efforts to speak to him every day [sic] Americans and address the dire health inequalities this virus has exposed, “Adams said in a Jan. 20 statement on the Surgeon General’s Facebook page.

He also helped increase the availability of naloxone to fight the opioid epidemic.

“We were able to increase naloxone [sic] Availability across the country by over 400% and save countless lives, ”Adams wrote on Facebook. “This is perhaps my proudest accomplishment, as my family has been personally affected by my substance abuse and I firmly believe that stigma remains one of our greatest killers and obstacles to health.”

During his tenure, Adams also published the first surgeon general report in more than a generation on smoking cessation. Adams also called for measures to control high blood pressure, maternal health and suicide prevention. Days before his resignation, he also published the General Surgeon’s First Report on Population Health and Economic Prosperity, which Adams wrote: “It emphasizes the links between the health of our communities and the health of our economies.”

A replacement for Adams was not immediately named.

References:

Jerome Adams, MD Facebook page

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Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD)

Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD

Adams has tried very well to explain public health to a wider audience. The report he published yesterday on Population Health and Economic Wealth will be an important document for corporate engagement for many years to come.

Adams was unable to correct the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. But Adams’ work on the tobacco and opioid epidemic was important. Adams also spoke frequently and convincingly of the need to treat people with substance use disorders with dignity, and was deeply concerned about the health challenges that affect the country. This may be why he was able to translate public health principles and ideas to a very wide audience.

Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD

Former FDA Deputy Commissioner
John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Vice Dean of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement

Disclosure: Sharfstein does not report any relevant financial information on the matter.

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Michael Siegel, MD, MPH)

Michael Siegel, MD, MPH

Adams served the surgeon general’s office with great grace, dignity, and respect. He brought an emphasis on health justice as well as social and racial justice to the office. He has made numerous public health contributions, particularly in the areas of reducing opioid overdose, tackling the e-cigarette epidemic in adolescents, highlighting the problems related to cannabis use among adolescents, providing information on various methods of smoking cessation and the fight against suicide and maternal health.

Adams was always ready to discuss any topic, to hear alternative points of view, and he always had an obligation to get it right. In fact, he looked for alternative opinions to ensure that he made decisions based on the best information and arguments available. During the pandemic, he continued to speak the truth and hold on to science, despite the political pressures faced by many executives. He will be missed by the public health community but will continue to make great contributions to the public health service.

Michael Siegel, MD, MPH

Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health

Disclosure: Siegel does not report any relevant financial information.

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