Alabama physician recognized

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2009

By Staff
A south Alabama physician known for her dedication to her patients has been recognized on a national stage.
Dr. Regina Benjamin, who has mortgaged her house and maxed out her credit cards so that she and her clinic can continue serving disadvantaged patients in Bayou La Batre, was nominated Monday as surgeon general by President Obama.
Benjamin has seen the kind of illnesses that have become healthcare crises in Alabama and in the nation — diabetes, HIV, high blood pressure. She has treated patients with little or no ability to pay.
Those experiences — along with her intelligence and talent — make her uniquely qualified to become the “nation’s doctor” at a time when physicians are treating so many preventable illnesses — and when uninsured patients are finding it difficult to be treated at all.
While healthcare has become such a partisan issue in Washington lately, Benjamin’s nomination inspired praise from Alabama’s top Republican leaders.
From U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions: “Dr. Benjamin has displayed an unwavering commitment to improving health care in rural and underserved areas, and has demonstrated a sincere dedication to the wellbeing of her patients.”
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of healthcare and how to control its rising costs, most of us agree that something must be done to make it more affordable. Perhaps Benjamin’s real-world experience can help bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats struggling to find common ground on the issue.
We hope Benjamin will be able to use her “bully pulpit” to encourage programs to fight preventable illness — and programs that help find a way to make healthcare more affordable for all Americans.