Alabama family physician Dr. Regina Benjamin was confirmed Thursday as the new U.S. surgeon general. The Senate approved her by voice vote.
Benjamin, 53, became well-known for her efforts to rebuild her rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The clinic serves 4,400 patients who would have difficulty finding care elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.
Honors awarded to Benjamin, the first black woman to head a state medical society, include the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant."
"My hope ... is to be America's doctor, America's family physician," Benjamin said when President Obama nominated her in July, the AP reported. "As we work toward a solution to this health care crisis, I promise to communicate directly with the American people to help guide them through whatever changes may come with health care reform."