A fascinating look into the life of a state surgeon general and how his public health decisions provide a blueprint for fearless leadership and better national health policy. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo shares the inspiring story of how he came to be who he is. After experiencing abuse as a child, Dr. Ladapo was incapable of connecting emotionally with other people. He was dissociated from virtually everything in his life and numbly powered through college, medical school, and residency to become a doctor and university professor. It wasn’t until he fell in love with his wife that he was forced to come face-to-face with the enormous emotional and spiritual disruption caused by his deeply buried trauma. Just before the pandemic, Dr. Ladapo worked with a former Navy Seal who used a mix of ancient disciplines and modern techniques to help free him from this trauma—and subsequently, his fear. When the pandemic hit Los Angeles, Dr. Ladapo found himself well-equipped to observe the panic and fear that overtook the hospital where he was working—and the country—without becoming part of it. From this state of emotional clarity, he recognized that it was too late to take any public health measures that would significantly change the deadliness of the pandemic, and that it was more important to face the challenge squarely and focus on building capacity to treat patients without destroying society in the process. His message that panic, fear, and politics were fueling harmful decisions—like disavowing the possibility that hydroxychloroquine could effectively treat COVID-19—made him the target of fierce criticism. In Transcend Fear: A Blueprint for Mindful Leadership in Public Health, Dr. Ladapo describes his views on public health restrictions, early home treatment, and COVID-19 vaccines, along with how Florida officials made public health decisions that set it apart from other states—and nations. Based on this experience, Dr. Ladapo explains how states can make better public health decisions in the future, recommending that health officials obtain training in decision analysis and expand their consciousness of how fear can shape perspectives and create dangerous outcomes—particularly during a crisis.
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AUTHORS: Joseph Ladapo
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