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Report on Dr. Adams’ last week as Indiana’s Health Commissioner

Tuesday, September 5, 2017  
Posted by: Harley Robinson, DVM
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Report on Dr. Adams’ last week as Indiana’s Health Commissioner:

Friends, co-workers and well-wishers from all across Indiana converged on the  Indiana State Health Department (ISDH) on Monday August 28 to say good-bye to Dr.  Jerome Adams.  He and his family departed September 1, travelling to Washington, DC, to take his position as the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. But before leaving he received a proper Hoosier Farewell.

The reception was an uplifting event complete with speeches from high level officials as well as many hugs and  congratulatory words from all ISDH staff. The  excitement in the room was palpable as Indiana said “see you later, and our door is always open” for a future  return to the Hoosier state which undeniably thinks so highly of this Health Commissioner.  A heart-felt farewell song was sung by the ISDH staff to the tune of “The Adams Family” complete with iconic finger snaps which put smiles on everyone’s faces.

Perhaps the most endearing speech was presented by Dr. Jennifer Walthall who was Co-Health Commissioner with Dr. Adams until her recent appointment to the Indiana Family Social Services Administration. She outlined 5 things learned from Dr. Adams. 1) Don’t let your circumstances define who you are, 2) Care about people, not for what they can do for you, but because you genuinely care about them, 3) Work really hard, and then work a little harder, 4) Know your stuff and then let that knowledge be surrounded by compassion, 5) No matter where you go or how far you get, remember you probably had little to do with it; always be humble and grateful.

Dr. Adams spoke from his heart to the attendees  noting that his stint as the Health Commissioner has been the best job of his life and that he was proud to be from Indiana and part of the ISDH that works hard every day to protect the health of all Hoosiers. He described himself as a “listener” and not a dictatorial leader. He invited his friends from Indiana to “call him out” as Surgeon General, if a decision he makes is not in the best interest of all Americans. His appointment and confirmation as Surgeon General is “truly an indescribable honor”.

When you see Dr. Adams in Washington, DC, he will invariably be wearing his signature bowtie. I personally have never seen him without one. Best wishes and godspeed, Dr. Adams, as you assume your role as US Surgeon General. We will miss you in Indiana but we know that your dedication and commitment to the public’s health will soon be shared with the entire nation.


Harley Robinson, DVM

Indiana Association of Local Boards of Health,  president