First California Surgeon General Resigns 3 Years into Tenure

Written  by William Hekman

On Wednesday, California’s first surgeon general Dr. Nadine Burke Harris resigned saying that she is, “prioritizing care for myself and my family”. Dr. Harris was first appointed to the role by Governor Newsom in January 2019. Her appointment was, “to help the youngest Californians” which Newsom made a part of his administration. 

Dr. Harris is the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. She also lead the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health which she partnered with the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Harris also served as a n advisory council member for the Clinton Foundation’s “Too Small to Fail” campaign. Harris said her focus as surgeon general was to talk about pressures in life that could grow into larger health problems for young children, “like adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress”. More recently, she pivoted towards mental health and stress as many children began to have issues with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. She also spoke out on gun violence and the juvenile justice system. 

In her statement of resignation, Harris said that she wants to prioritize taking care of herself and her family, “I have always said, self-care isn’t selfish. That is not just something I say. They are words that I live by”. Dr. Harris will officially leave office on February 11th, three years exactly after she assumed her role. 

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly applauded Dr. Harris for her work, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Newsom said Dr. Harris has, “been instrumental in advancing the health and well-being of Californians”. In the interim, Dr. Devika Bhushan, the chief health officer will be the acting Surgeon General. 

Photo Cred: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File