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Newsom names SF doctor state’s first surgeon general

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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (File photo by Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

A nationally recognized doctor based in San Francisco has been appointed as California’s first surgeon general, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office
announced Monday.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, 43, who is a pediatrician, entrepreneur and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, has been appointed as the state’s first-ever surgeon general.

“Looking forward to rolling up my sleeves as CA’s first Surgeon General,” Burke Harris said on Twitter. “Thank you @GavinNewsom for your bold vision for health for all Californians. #preventscreenandheal!”

The appointment was made as part of the governor’s effort to help the youngest residents of California, according his office.

Burke Harris has been aiming to change the way society responds to childhood trauma, which according to a short biography of her is “one of the most serious, expensive and widespread public health crises of our time.”

Burke Harris’s Center for Youth Wellness is working to change the way people respond to children exposed to toxic stress and “adverse childhood experiences,” according to the biography.

Burke Harris leads the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health and she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’
National Advisory Board for Screening. She’s also on a committee for the National Academy of Medicine.

The idea of a state surgeon general is not new, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Pennsylvania established a physician general position in 1996 and that position still exists. Florida and Arkansas have physician general positions. Michigan eliminated its physician general position in 2010.

Burke Harris is a Democrat and will be sworn in as surgeon general Feb. 11. She will be paid $200,000. She does not need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Berkeley resident Kris Perry, 54, was sworn in Monday as deputy secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency for Early
Childhood Development and as senior advisor to Newsom on Implementation of Early Childhood Development Initiatives.

Perry’s appointment is also meant to help children of California. Perry, also a Democrat, will be paid $170,000 and her position does not need Senate confirmation.

-Keith Burbank, Bay City News

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