Obama Chooses Alabama Doc for Surgeon General

Benjamin gained fame by rebuilding clinic after Hurricane Katrina
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 13, 2009 10:50 AM CDT
Dr. Regina Benjamin poses for a portrait in the waiting room at her temporary clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., Sept.18, 2008.    (Bill Starling)

(Newser) – President Barack Obama turned to the Deep South for the next surgeon general, a rural Alabama family physician who made headlines with fierce determination to rebuild her nonprofit medical clinic in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Obama will announce the nomination of Dr. Regina Benjamin later today. Born in 1956, Benjamin is the first black woman and the youngest doctor ever elected to the AMA's board, and has a reputation as a tireless advocate for the underprivileged.

A decade ago, the New York Times called her "angel in a white coat," a country doctor who made house calls along the impoverished Gulf Coast, and charged whatever her patients could scrounge. Her nonprofit clinic was rebuilt by volunteers after being destroyed by Katrina, only to burn down months later. She's been busy rebuilding it again.