Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama Taps Former FAMU Trustee To Be Surgeon General

The Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr. couldn't hide his excitement Monday afternoon after hearing about President Obama's nominee for surgeon general.

Obama's pick, Dr. Regina Benjamin, was appointed along with Holmes by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001 to be one of Florida A&M's first trustees. Holmes currently serves as trustee vice chairman for the university.

Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, described Benjamin as a "beautiful person" who as a trustee was caring, competent and capable. He said he could rely on her to give honest dialogue and direction. Her trustee term ended in 2007. This is huge for the FAMU community but most important for the whole country," Holmes said. He said Benjamin will focus on "health care for all people."

Her resume appears to back up that observation. Benjamin has emerged as a national leader for improving health disparities, pushed by the need in her own fishing community of Bayou LaBatre, Ala., and its diverse patient mix — where immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos make up a growing part of the population. She seemed to be very even handed.

She was open and attended all the board meetings," former FAMU nursing professor Pat Tucker said. Tucker said she was happy to see Obama select someone with rural-health experience. It was just a decade ago that the New York Times described Benjamin as an "angel in a white coat," a country doctor who made house calls along the impoverished Gulf Coast.

Read more of this story at www.tallahassee.com

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