News, public health

Remembering a voice who spoke for those in dire need of healthcare

Dr. Charles van der Horst

On Tuesday, friends and family gathered at Beth El Synagogue in Durham to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Charles van der Horst.

Van der Horst, who died unexpectedly over the weekend in a swimming accident in New York, was a prominent voice for the uninsured and for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

The Raleigh News & Observer noted his career spanned decades and made a lasting impact:

Van der Horst was a preeminent UNC researcher and clinician who helped develop groundbreaking treatment protocols for HIV/AIDS and, after that once-terrifying virus had been tamed to a manageable disease, inspired a new generation of scientists to tackle Ebola. He was a compassionate doctor who turned a community service stint into a campaign to eradicate Hepatitis C in Wake County. He was a social justice advocate willing to go to jail to draw attention to the needs of the state’s uninsured.

NC Policy Watch got to know van der Horst in that last role, as a social justice advocate.

In 2017, he appeared on Policy Watch’s News & Views to discuss the wrongheaded approach by Republicans in Washington to gut the Affordable Care Act. Here’s an excerpt of that interview:

Governor Roy Cooper also remembered the doctor this week on Facebook: “Dr. Charlie Van Der Horst’s life and work were defined by compassion. From his time volunteering in North Carolina’s free clinics to his efforts on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, he made our state and our world better.”

Van der Horst was 67.

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