From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
There must be some magic in the water fountains at the Arkansas Health Department, because they keep sending top level experts to the national Centers for Disease Control.
First it was Dr. Nate Smith, who was the head of the Health Department for seven years.
Two years ago the CDC asked him to move to Atlanta to take over as deputy director of public health service and implementation science.
It could have been a terrible loss, considering the invaluable work he was doing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout Arkansas.
But the governor quickly replaced him with another dedicated physician – Dr. Jose Romero.
After two years leading the Arkansas Health Department, Dr. Romero recently announced that he too was headed to Atlanta to work for the Centers for Disease Control.
He will become director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
At this week’s meeting of the Senate Public Health Committee, legislators read a glowing tribute thanking Dr. Romero for his service.
He and Dr. Smith were instrumental in quickly ramping up our testing capabilities at the height of the pandemic.
They deserve our thanks for their hard work, their dedication to science and their courage to speak the truth in the face of relentless political partisanship.
Arkansas could have suffered much more from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 virus, but we were fortunate to have leaders in the medical and scientific community like Doctors Smith and Romero.
True to form, at his final appearance before legislators on the Public Health Committee, Dr. Romero was candid and open about his methods over the past two years.
He admitted that he had made some missteps, and he gave credit to others when they were correct in their assumptions.
That is the nature of a true scientist. Unlike politicians, scientists are not convinced that they are always right. They’re willing to accept different ideas and experiment with different methods.
The important thing is to get the right answer, not to take credit for being right all the time.
The governor has not announced a replacement for Dr. Romero, but I’m confident the next Secretary of Health will be an excellent choice.
Like I said, there must be something magical in the water fountains at the Arkansas Health Department.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.