Op-Ed: Oz shows lack of empathy for Fetterman following his stroke
The brain has amazing neuroplasticity. That simply means the brain has an ability to form and reorganize connections, especially in response to learning or following injury. We see this in children as they learn and grow. We see it after strokes and brain injuries. Brains can and do recover. A loss of speech is not a loss of intelligence or ideas. Dr. Mehmet Oz should remember that from medical school.
When you are a doctor and a patient is challenged, you show empathy. When I was in academia, students who could not effectively do this had to undergo remediation. In the past few weeks, Oz has mocked John Fetterman, who recently had a stroke. I do not want a Senator that needs a behavioral plan.
Real doctors know that John will make strides in his speech and understand that a setback does not change his underlying ideas. That is what we are voting for. It is what we need in Pennsylvania. John is unapologetic about missed or repeated words as he should be. We know that there are multiple amazing ways that people can communicate with one another, and spoken words are only one.
I have intelligent patients who are deaf, or non-verbal. They communicate with sign language, and typing. Oz speaks fluidly and smoothly and I hear his words and disagree with them. A way with words does not equal a way in leadership.
Pennsylvanians are in this for the long game and know genuine when they see it. So, know this — John Fetterman’s character is intact. He cares about Pennsylvanians, our health, our growth, our safety, and our families. Yes, Fetterman might have a problem converting his thoughts into words, but he can still meaningfully and respectfully communicate. And Mehmet Oz will remain himself — an empathy-lacking, smooth, slick talker. I would not want Oz involved in any medical care for my loved ones, or my patients, and I certainly do not want him as my next Senator.
Dr. Belinda Birnbaum is a Montgomery County rheumatologist.