Something wonderful is about to happen.

What?  Where?  When?

We’ll get to the details later.

For now, I am told that Jerome Adams MD is now finalizing his “Surgeon General’s” report. And what, exactly is that, anyway?  Very interesting, these Surgeon Generals reports.  They’re always big news and they’ve always had an outsized impact on the health of our republic and on the way we practice medicine. 

You may remember C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General in 1988 whose report on the link between tobacco and lung cancer started the anti-smoking movement in this country…a movement that leads the world in suppressing preventable deaths from tobacco. Hundreds of thousands of (our patients’) lives saved.  Way to go SG Koop!

Next there was SG Antonia Novello MD, who focused on the health of women, children, and minorities, chastising cigarette companies for marketing to children and pointing out the connection between school success and good health.  Our underage patients needed her efforts.

SG Jocelyn Elders MD advocated for drug legalization.  Though a decade or so before her time, and widely criticized at the time, we should have listened to her then, and many thousands of our patients would have gotten treatment for their addiction rather than being thrown in jail.  We just might not be in the opioid crisis we are in today.

SG David Satcher MD pointed out the need to address tobacco use in minorities, a group that suffered  disproportionately from tobacco-related illness.  He could have invented the term: “Social determinants of health,” which is now so de rigueur.

SG Richard Carmona carried forward the torch by dealing with second-hand smoke, arguing that second-hand smoke caused cancer and advocating the banning of smoking in public places, doubtless saving many thousands of innocent non-smokers who couldn’t help but breathe in carcinogens from those around them.  My sainted aunt was one of those victims who developed lung cancer from second-hand smoke.  Dr. Carmona’s work is very personal to me.

SG Regina Benjamin started notable public health initiatives to prevent suicide; and to combat obesity, and inactivity; all ongoing today, though much remains to be done.

SG Vivek Murthy picked up on SG Elders’ efforts with respect to alcohol, drugs, and their effect on health.  He argued that addiction is a medical not a moral problem and needs scientifically proven prevention and treatment efforts on a national scale. Again, much remains to be done.

Well, our current Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, MD, is not well known to us, probably because of the fact that, although he has been our Surgeon General for three years, he has yet to issue an official report.  But his often repeated motto: “better health through partnerships,” sounds suspiciously like what has been happening in our own neighborhood lately; and our community should thus find itself in the vanguard of the next big thing in public health in the United States of America.  Who would have guessed!

For information on such health partnership activities going on locally, you can read through this Bulletin until, towards the final pages, you will see where I describe activities of THRIVE, a major project of the healthcare consortium called MIHIA (of which Saginaw County Medical Society is a member); and the four-county business consortium called Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.