Surgeon general nominee welcomed by medical community
A positive response from members of the medical community and others has greeted the nomination of Indiana's health commissioner as surgeon general.
Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana's health commissioner since 2014, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.
His leading role at both at state level and nationally in battling the opioid epidimic is singled out as a signature element of his work in recent years. He is also an advocate of needle exchanges to combat the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.
“Dr. Adams is an exceptional physician who has demonstrated a strong commitment to fighting the public health consequences of opioid abuse and has worked to expand the availability of naloxone, the overdose antidote," Dr. Rebecca Parker, president of American College of Emergency Physicians, told Patient Daily.
"The nation’s emergency physicians look forward to working with him to promote innovative solutions to the opioid crisis, such as expanding the ALTO (Alternatives to Opioids) program, and to advancing the delivery of quality emergency care when and where it's needed," Parker said.
Her comments echoed those made by Dr. David Barbe, president of the American Medical Association, which singled out his advocating strongly for physicians to play a role in the opioid crisis.
“The American Medical Association strongly supports the nomination of Dr. Jerome Adams to become the next surgeon general of the United States," Barbe said in a statement following the announcement of his nomination.
"As Indiana State Health Commissioner, Dr. Adams has advocated strongly for physicians to play a leading role in reining in the opioid epidemic, fought to reduce infant mortality, and pushed for a needle exchange program to tackle his state’s HIV outbreak," Barbe said.
As health commissioner, Adams, who was reappointed in January, oversees public health, health care quality and tobacco prevention and other areas.
Kaiser Health News noted in an article that four months into his job, Adams had to tackle an HIV outbreak in a rural Scott County, one spread through injection use.
The surgeon general nominee favored a needle exchange but had to persuade a then skeptical Gov. Mike Pence that it be introduced.
“We wouldn’t have syringe exchange if it wasn’t for him,” Carrie Lawrence, a public health researcher at Indiana University, told Kaiser Health News.
“No matter how uncomfortable syringe service programs make us, they are proven to save lives, both by preventing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C and by connecting people to treatment that can put them on a path to recovery,” Adams wrote in a blog post last month.
An exchange in Scott County helped stop the spread of HIV after 219 people contracted the virus, Adams said, adding that this saves money in other health care costs.
Adams has said 2,800 people have used the syringe programs. Participants can be tested for disease and get referrals for health insurance, social services, and treatment.
Some critics accused Pence of dragging his feet in the face of the Scott County crisis and making it difficult for other counties to introduce exchange programs. Adams disputed this, arguing the now vice president moved with speed despite his conservative leanings.
"You can’t go into, particularly middle America, and just point your finger at folks and say, ‘You need to have a syringe exchange and we’re going to pay for it with your tax dollars,’” Adams told Politico in an interview last year.
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