NEWS2U Health & Wellness
Living Healthy in an Unhealthy World

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bush's Pick for Surgeon General Makes Us Sick: Killed Veterans, Hates Gays, Loves Republicans

Dr. James Holsinger was tapped by President Bush Thursday to be the nation's next Surgeon General. Sure enough, Holsinger's record is mired with incompetence, zealous conservatism, and, of course, sizable campaign contributions to Republicans.

As Chief Medical Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs under Bush's father, Dr. Holsinger was neglecting our vets long before Walter Reed made it fashionable. A government investigation found "several cases in which incompetence and neglect led to the deaths of patients." Dr. Holsinger was forced to admit blame for the deaths of six patients in less than a year at a single Chicago hospital alone.

But the problems weren't limited to Chicago. In a Wyoming, a patient scheduled for surgery for a treatable cancer died after he was ignored for 45 days following the resignation of the staff urologist over a contract dispute. Thirty VA hospitals were found to have "high numbers of patient complications and other indicators of substandard care."

A decade later, Dr. Holsinger was appointed Kentucky's Cabinet Secretary for Health and Family Services. By the end of his tenure, a Kentucky newspaper found that the state was at the bottom of the nation for almost every health measure. Kentuckians die at a rate of 18 percent above the national average, the newspaper reported.

"We don't have to worry about foreign aggressors. We are killing ourselves off," said Dr. Baretta Casey, a Hazard physician and University of Kentucky professor. "I see a lot of illnesses similar to a third-world country," added Dr. Sandra Dionisio, a Kentucky internist trained in the Philippines.

"We've got some big mountains to climb," Dr. Holsinger said of the findings, a few months before he jumped ship for a cushy teaching job at the University of Kentucky.

So why does Bush want Dr. Holsinger to be the nation's top doc?

For starters, he hates gay people. As president of the United Methodist Church's Judicial Council, Holsinger ruled in 2004 that "the practice of homosexuality is a chargeable offense for clergy" after a highly publicized internal trial for openly lesbian pastor Karen Dammann.

In 1991, Dr. Holsinger resigned from church panel studying homosexuality "because he felt certain its conclusions would follow liberal lines."

Last year, a Methodist pastor blasted Dr. Holsinger for essentially trying to embezzle some $20 million from the Methodist Church through a charity Holsinger chairs. Holsinger has lost in court twice on the matter but continues to appeal through the legal system.

The coup de grace of the Dr. Holsinger story is his more than $16,000 in political donations since 1998 – all to Republicans, including George W. Bush. You can bet Cheney also had a role in the appointment since Dr. Holsinger specializes in cardiology.

Dr. Holsinger seems like a great choice for the VP to take hunting, but he hardly seems like the best candidate out of all the doctors in America to become our next Surgeon General.