. . . it was essential that the surgical suites be at the extremity of the building [because] you have to be able to expand them in physical contiguity with what's already there. You can't have operating rooms split."
Recently, someone who didn't know that DuVal had designed the medical center commented on what an "intelligently designed building" it was. "I took a great feeling of pride in that," says DuVal. The "time and effort spent with those blocks, it paid off."
Within days of the medical school graduating its first class in 1971, DuVal was nominated to be U.S. assistant secretary of health. He took an 18-month leave of absence to assume the post. Among his accomplishments in Washington, D.C., was helping facilitate the passage of the National Cancer Act (see here for more on the National Cancer Act).
DuVal also helped to close an unpleasant chapter in the nation's history—the Tuskegee project, an experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972 on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. The government was trying to learn about the progression of syphilitic infections, but many of today's tenets of clinical research were violated. The subjects were not informed that they were part of an experiment or even that they had syphilis, nor were they offered penicillin in the 1940s after studies elsewhere had proven that it cured the disease.
After the Tuskegee story broke in the press in 1972, some officials argued that the program should be kept intact because by then the surviving subjects were getting excellent care. "All the mistakes, all the bad things, were historical," DuVal explains. But "I just felt
that the American public did not want to see the federal government continue to support that. So I closed it down."
His responsibilities also included representing the United States at international meetings and testifying before Congress on health bills. "The position that I was to take was determined by the Office of Management and Budget, the president's financial arm," DuVal says. "They would send over the testimony that I was to read. And very often I would get it at 9:30 when I was testifying at 10:00. That made it difficult." Reading the testimony aloud wasn't hard, but it didn't leave DuVal much time to prepare for the questions that he knew he would get peppered with.
He chuckles as he recalls how the political process works. One member of Congress, for instance, would invite DuVal for a drink the night before a hearing and warn him that he was going to ask tough questions the next day. "He'd pummel away the following morning with his questions. He knew all the way along where I stood. But if he wanted to make a certain point against the administration's approach, he would do it through me, at my expense," says DuVal. But "to this day, we're candid, we're great friends."
In addition, DuVal proposed the Emergency Medical Services Act, which was signed into law in 1973, as well as regulations calling on manufacturers to stop putting lead in paint and gasoline.
DuVal returned to the University of Arizona in 1973 and served as vice president for health sciences there until 1979. He went on to be president of the National Center for Health Education in San Francisco from 1979 to 1982; president and CEO of Associated Health Systems/American Healthcare Institute in Washington, D.C., from 1982 to 1988; and
senior vice president for medical affairs at Samaritan Health Services, a nonprofit, multihospital system in Phoenix, from 1988 to 1990.
DuVal's many achievements include being named a Markle Scholar early in his career. The Markle program identified young faculty judged to be capable of eventually having a positive impact on academic medicine. The fact that he went on to do so is evident from his nine honorary degrees and fellowships and many other awards.
The auditorium at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center and a conference room at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center are named in his honor. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; has served on numerous professional and community boards; chaired the Dartmouth Medical School Board of Overseers in the 1970s; hosted a regular CBS-TV program in Phoenix; was one of the principal architects of an Arizona cost-containment program for the medically indigent; and, just two years ago, helped enact a law that established the Arizona Advance Directive Registry.
Although he retired in 1990, DuVal has continued to champion health-care reform. At a recent press conference, he spoke in behalf of a bill to create a universal health-care system in Arizona. According to the Arizona Republic, DuVal pronounced the "current system uncoordinated, undisciplined, and riddled with problems that 'a private market cannot solve.'"
Clearly, the former model, medical student, dean, and federal official is still in the media eye—only now he shows up in the news pages rather than in cereal ads.
Laura Carter is the associate editor of Dartmouth Medicine magazine.
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