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California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris resigns, prioritizing family

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  • California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris

California surgeon general Nadine Burke Harris – who has raised awareness at the highest levels of state government about the reverberating effects of childhood trauma – will put her professional career on hold to spend more time with her family, it said. she announced on Wednesday.

“I have always felt drawn to public service, so being able to serve during the greatest public health crisis in a century has been the experience of a lifetime,” Harris said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to create the California Office of the Surgeon General and move the needle in our priority areas of early childhood, health equity and [Adverse Childhood Experiences] and toxic stress. I am aware that our progress has been made possible thanks to all of you.

Harris has dedicated her career to learning exactly how childhood trauma and stress affect children’s growth. She helped quantify the negative childhood experiences that Californians encountered in her 2014 Center for Youth Wellness study, paving the way for new research into how toxic stress affects the body on a biological level and how mitigation strategies that can be used to reduce stress, finding that the number one mitigation strategy is self-care.

“I’m sure you’ve heard me say – over and over – that self-care isn’t selfish. These are words I live with. As I step down from this role, I’ll be putting my professional life on hold for a while. that I focus on prioritizing care for myself and my family,” she said.

During her time as California’s first surgeon general, Harris’ office created the statewide ACEs Aware initiative which trained physicians to screen for ACEs, provided guidance on how to alleviate toxic stress and has provided grants to cities and counties across the state.

Harris’ work on ACEs immediately reached Humboldt County, as conversations about how to reduce ACEs and toxic stress began as soon as the 2014 study was published. North Shore, Mike McGuire, hosted three ACE town hall meetings and the last one featured Harris, who saw hundreds of people in attendance from different Humboldt County organizations on the same mission to reduce childhood trauma .

First Five Humboldt Executive Director Mary Ann Hansen has followed Harris’s research and leads the county’s ACE initiatives through First Five and works with the county to provide grants to local organizations to implement programs stress relief and trauma-informed training. She has also worked with Harris and the ACEs Aware campaign to further research on implementing a network of care system for California physicians screening for ACEs.

“It’s sad to see such a dynamic leader resign, but she has worked at a crazy pace and accomplished so much in a short time. I wish her the best,” Hansen told the Newspaper.

Hansen hopes California hasn’t seen the last of Harris, his work and his inspiration, adding that it was Harris’ passion and voice that helped start a long-needed paradigm shift.

“I have mad respect for her to give her speech on stress, balance and self-care,” Hansen said, adding that she understands how the toll and stress of the COVID- 19 in progress has had an impact on Harris, who is the mother of four boys, the youngest of whom is 5 years old. “To be at such a high point in her career and have the presence of mind to realize that she needs to direct her energy towards the well-being of herself and her family, wow! It takes courage and a commitment to ensure long-term positive outcomes for their whole family. …what a role model she continues to be, in promoting long-term health. ”

California Surgeon General’s Office Health Director Devika Bhushan will serve as interim Surgeon General and the office will continue to support investments in child and youth well-being, vaccine equity and early detection of ACEs and toxic stress.

“It has been an honor to partner with you to start a movement that is making such a tangible difference in the lives of Californians every day,” Harris said. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. »

Harris’ last day in office will be Feb. 11.