Murthy praises doc who made a dif­fer­ence

Modern Healthcare - - OUT LIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Af­ter spend­ing about 12 min­utes urg­ing at­ten­dees at a re­cent Amer­i­can Pub­lic Health As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing to go forth and do great things, U.S. Sur­geon Gen­eral Dr. Vivek Murthy used the story of high school stu­dent Jill Ste­wart as an ex­am­ple of how one per­son can make a dif­fer­ence.

As class pres­i­dent in 1987 at Hamil­ton Heights High School in Arcadia, Ind., Ste­wart per­suaded school of­fi­cials to have med­i­cal ex­perts talk to stu­dents in ad­vance of a new class­mate’s ar­rival. The new stu­dent was AIDS pa­tient Ryan White, who had been sub­jected to ha­rass­ment at his home­town school in Kokomo, Ind. Be­cause of Ste­wart’s ef­forts, White was wel­comed, Murthy said.

What wasn’t said, how­ever, was that Ste­wart—now Dr. Jill Waibel, owner and med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Miami (Fla.) Der­ma­tol­ogy and Laser In­sti­tute—has con­tin­ued on the path she started down in high school. Waibel, who said she was un­aware that her high school story would be men­tioned in Murthy’s speech, was in the news again last month for making a dif­fer­ence.

This time it was for treat­ing the burn scars on the back of Kim Phuc, who was pho­tographed 43 years ago as a 9-year-old girl scream­ing in pain from a na­palm at­tack dur­ing the Viet­nam War.

“It’s an honor to treat her and be part of this jour­ney in history,” Waibel told the Miami Her­ald.

Above, Jill Ste­wart and Ryan White went to Wash­ing­ton to tes­tify be­fore an AIDS com­mis­sion in 1988. At right, Ste­wart, now Dr. Jill Waibel, ex­am­ines Kim Phuc be­fore her laser treat­ments.

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