Statement from Dr. Howard Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health, on the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
With the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, the nation has lost one of our most admired, devoted and compassionate public health champions. As the Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1997-2003, I am deeply honored to have known him and to have worked closely with him to improve the health and well being of the people of Massachusetts.
As a legislator, his stature, accomplishments and influence are unparalleled. His dedication to the dream of a stronger and healthier America and his tireless perseverance promoting health and civil rights have ensured that millions of Americans have received essential health services, especially those in greatest need.
Senator Kennedy’s profound impact was not just political, it was also personal. He had an uncanny ability to make everyone around him feel especially appreciated. I recall the day he took time out of his busy schedule to address staff attending a Massachusetts Department of Public Health event, applauding their commitment to public health and public service. I will also cherish his personal call years later congratulating me on my recent appointment as the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
His passion for policy as well as people was an inspiration to us all. He has left an enduring legacy for us to uphold as we carry his mission forward. His vision to provide all Americans the care they need and deserve, and his values for the importance of caring for others will bring us a legacy of eternal hope.