Manny Sethi is a trauma surgeon running to be the next senator from the state of Tennessee. He is the son of immigrants, and an unabashed conservative who discusses his journey from medicine to politics, as well as his views on healthcare.SHOW NOTESManny Sethi: Twitter and BioWatch this episode on YouTube
Ep. 136. Manny Sethi. Trauma Surgeon & US Senate Candidate
The Accad and Koka Report
Manny Sethi is a trauma surgeon running to be the next senator from the state of Tennessee. He is the son of immigrants,and an unabashed conservative who discusses his journey from medicine to politics, as well as his views on healthcare.GUEST:Manny Sethi: Twitter and BioWATCH ON YOUTUBE:Watch the episode on our YouTube channelSUPPORT THE SHOW:Make a small donation on our Patreon page on and join our discussion group or receive a free book.
What's up MDR listeners? On today's podcast we have a very special guest, Dr. Manny Sethi. Dr. Manny is an orthopedic trauma surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Manny is running for U.S. Senate for the state of Tennessee. Dr. Manny, the son of legal immigrants from India, discusses his family's background in coming to America. He talks about his goals as the next Senator for Tennessee and how he hopes to make a change. He also gives his reason to why you should vote for him if you are an "on the fence" voter. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!
Some of the highlights of the show include: Dr. Manny Sethi’s parents grew up in India in the 1940s. They moved to Cleaveland, Ohio in the 1970s after waiting seven years to come to America. @2:52 Dr. Sethi’s family moved to Hillsboro, TN in the 80s. His father was a doctor to many farmers there. @4:26 Becoming a trauma surgeon was not easy, but Dr. Sethi felt like it was what he was called to do. @7:23 For his trauma fellowship, Dr. Manny Sethi went to Vanderbilt Medical Center. He has been on staff there for 10 years now. @9:27 Dr. Sethi met his wife Maya when they were 16. They are now married with two children. @10:17 “I just believe that our faith as Christians is to just reach out in times of need and help people.” -Dr. Manny Sethi @12:00 10 years ago, Dr. Sethi and his wife started Healthy Tennessee, a preventative health organization that focuses on the health of rural Tennesseans. @13:33 “I just deeply in my heart feel it's an opportunity to ensure that the American dream in Tennessee stays alive for the next generation.” -Dr. Sethi on why he is running for Senate @17:54 Dr. Sethi believes opening up TN and America is the best decision because the mortality rate would be less than 2 percent, but our economic gains would be so much higher. @20:16 Dr. Sethi advises everyone to wash their hands and to wear a mask at the grocery store if it is crowded. He also says to try and keep high risk family members away from stores and crowded areas. @24:54 Vanderbilt Medical Center had some COVID patients. It was an anxiety-inducing environment for Dr. Seth, but overall, it made him closer with his co-workers there. @28:16 “We've got to cut our spending; our discretionary spending continues to be out of control.” -Dr. Sethi @36:24 As a US Senator, Dr. Sethi wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He also wants to tackle the opioid crisis. @ “I'm asking you to take a chance on me and send me to the United States Senate and let's fight together to solve some of the greatest issues of our time.” - Dr. Sethi @44:49 TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today's episode, we have Dr. Manny Sethi, a trauma surgeon here in Nashville that works at Vanderbilt Medical Center. We're going to talk to him today about why he's running for the US Senate and to give his take on the current events in Washington DC. But before we get started, I would like to invite Manny to tell us a little bit about himself and what it was like growing up in Tennessee. Welcome to the program. Dr. Sethi.Dr. Sethi: Well, Senator Bailey, it's an honor to have you, thanks for having me on. And before I go forward, I just want to say, you get to know people in different walks of life, in different ways and one of the substantial conversations I will always remember about you is when the tornadoes Cookeville, and you just we're all-in, helping folks, and were so selfless. And that is what I aspire to be as someone who wants to pursue public service. So, thank you for that.Senator Bailey: Well, thank you for those kind words. And, as you know, as someone that serves the public as well, that when you are a public servant, and you have a true servant's heart, the main mission is always about the people and meeting their needs. But again, thank you for those kind comments. And so, tell me a little bit about your backstory. I'd like to know about where you grew up here in Tennessee, and tell us a little bit about why you became a trauma surgeon. So, tell us a little bit about your family. The thing of it is the podcasts can go anywhere because, certainly, everyone has access to it, but a lot of people in the Upper Cumberland area in the 15th Senate District that I represent, listen to these podcasts. And this is an opportunity for you to really introduce yourself because we're in unprecedented times as far as campaigning right now. It's very tough. Obviously, we can't have Reagan day dinners, and it's hard to be at those Farm Bureau breakfasts, and so we're having to redo our campaigns basically, to reach people. So, I felt like this would be another way for you to reach the people of the Upper Cumberland, and tell them about Manny Sethi. Dr. Sethi: Sure. Well, thanks. Well, my story, Senator, all starts with my parents, as for all of us, and my parents grew up in India in the 1940s. And they had nothing when they were little children. Their homes were burned to the ground by Muslim radicals. And they both, by the grace of God, pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps to become doctors. My mother would be a nanny, and she'd go to these villages in India without electricity, without running water, see patients. My father would sleep in the back of his car at night, and do odd jobs, and see patients during the day. But they both get through medical school, they both become physicians and they look around. And they realize that India is not going to be the place for their unborn kids. And they're looking at what's happening with their nephews and nieces, and so they go to the US Embassy, they stand in line and wait their turn, and it took about seven years. And in the 1970s, they came to Cleveland, Ohio—and that's where I was born—and retrained in the medical system, here in America. And then, at the age of four years old, I can still remember it, I got on this semi-truck, and we rolled on down to Coffee County, Tennessee; Hillsboro, Tennessee. And for those of you who don't know in the Upper Cumberland, Coffee County, Hillsboro, Tennessee is mostly a farming town. Back then, there were absolutely no doctors there. And so, my parents were among the first physicians, and they were doctors to farmers. And Hillsboro, Tennessee, people didn't have a lot, but they sure had each other, and they invested in me and my brother—go ahead.Senator Bailey: My question is, in what year was that? Dr. Sethi: That was 1982 Senator Bailey: 1982. So, the early 80s?Dr. Sethi: Yeah.Senator Bailey: Okay.Dr. Sethi: So, in the early 80s, they were here in a farming town, and folks really poured their love into me and my brother, and I went to this school, which was a really, really small school, Hillsboro Elementary School, and really went to the school with the kids of all these farmers. And I just remember, they really struggled, but you just never known it. And I'd make all these house calls with my dad. We only had one ambulance in our town, so we had this blue Delta 88 Oldsmobile, and we'd make these house calls on the backroads, and I very specifically remember this one night, we picked up this farmer in Altamont in Grundy County. And he was having chest pain and shortness of breath, and I'm in the backseat of this car, and my dad's rushing to the hospital, this rural hospital he helped develop, and my dad runs him inside and comes out, and he's comforting the family. And I watch his family tries to give my dad money, but he wouldn't take it. So, he gets back in the car, I get in the front seat. And we're riding home and I said, “Well, Dad, why don't you take this guy's money? Why don't you take this family's money?” and he says to me, “You know, Son, doesn't matter what's in your bank account, but what matters is the difference that you make.” And for me, that was a real important moment in my life, and something I always remember. Doesn't matter what's in your bank account, but what matters is the difference that you make. And that was Hillsboro, Tennessee, and that's how I was raised and watching them doctor to people mostly, again, farmers, and then when I was in my early 20s, I lost my dad to liver cancer. And so, for me, that was a real seminal moment in my life. I struggled hard. I just couldn't find my way. It was like being in quicksand. But that's when I found Christ. That's when I was saved. And that's when I realized that, like three generations of people: my family, I was going to become a doctor, too. So, I went off and trained and became a trauma surgeon. So, trauma surgery is not exactly the thing that people line up to do. And it’s, sort of, what a lot of people don't want to do. The lifestyle is hard. The risks are high. The financial reward is not as high, but I was always just drawn to the patients and I could not for the life of me understand why. And then, over time, as I've practiced it's come to me and I've realized that it's because these folks, my patients, remind me of the people I grew up with. Good God-fearing people who just were in harm's way, at the wrong place at the wrong time, or in a car accident, and they need someone to help them, and so I've just been very blessed and very fortunate to be a part of a lot of people's lives in a time when they need someone.Senator Bailey: Well, that's great. I want to back up just a little bit. So, you went to Hillsboro Elementary School. Then did you attend Coffee County High School?Dr. Sethi: Well, I went to Hillsboro elementary school and then I went to high school and Bell Buckle, Tennessee—Senator Bailey: Oh, Bell Buckle, okay. Dr. Sethi: —Bible-based school called the Webb School.Senator Bailey: Oh, yeah, I love Webb School. Yes.Dr. Sethi: Yeah, that's where I spent seven years of my life, in Bell Buckle. Now, if anybody listening to this wants to go to the best restaurant in America, it's the Bell Buckle Cafe—Senator Bailey: Absolutely.Dr. Sethi: —and ask for the fried cornbread. It's really good. Senator Bailey: So, well. I've just learned something. So, you attended the Webb School, and then I assume you went on to Vanderbilt from there? So, just tell me a little bit about—Dr. Sethi: Sure. Oh, sure. From there, I went on to go to school at Brown University up in the northeast. And then, after that, I really was trying to figure out what my way was in life and what I was going to do. So, I did something called a Fulbright scholarship where I went to North Africa, and I helped little kids with Muscular Dystrophy for a year. There was a specific type of neurological disease that affects muscle in kids. And no one could figure out what was going on, so I went on a project with the US government. And we collected muscle samples and built the first DNA database for the entire country of this disease.Senator Bailey: Of Africa?Dr. Sethi: Yeah, for North Africa, for Tunisia. And that was an amazing experience for me and it really showed the power of American medicine, and the power, as a Christian, that you could have in just helping others. And for me, that was a very formative time. And then came back home, went to Harvard Medical School.Senator Bailey: Oh, Harvard. Oh, okay. Wow.Dr. Sethi: [laughs]. Yeah.Senator Bailey: The Vanderbilt connection, obviously, is because you're a trauma surgeon there. But again, these are things that I associate you with Vanderbilt just thinking of obviously attending medical school there. And now. Yeah, you're enlightening me, and I think the audience will definitely be interested in that.Dr. Sethi: So, I went to Harvard Med School, stayed up there for my residency at Mass General Hospital, and like [00:09:36 unintelligible] did, and then came back and did my trauma fellowship at Vanderbilt. And trauma fellowship is just this crazy time in your life where for one year, you essentially just live in a hospital. So, it's a year where you're pretty much independent, but you're still learning a little bit and you work really hard. And Vanderbilt has probably one of the top five trauma programs in the country. I mean, it's just an incredible place. We're the third busiest level one center in America. So, you learn a lot. And so, did my trauma fellowship and then been on staff for about 10 years now.Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Wow. And so, somewhere along the line, you got married?Dr. Sethi: Yeah. So, I met my wife, Maya when I was 16 years old, at a summer program, and she's my first and only girlfriend and then became my wife. And we have two kids, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, and she's just such a blessing to me. She's just an amazing woman. Senator Bailey: Now she's an attorney. Dr. Sethi: She's an attorney and she works for charter schools. She used to do healthcare work—well she started out as a criminal defense attorney, then moved over into healthcare. And you know, Senator, I make no secret about it, we talked about this a lot because it helps people, and people don't talk about this enough. When we were trying to have kids, we just couldn't have kids. It was not happening. And so, I remember we went to visit this OB-GYN doctor and he said, “I give y'all about an under 30 percent shot for this to happen. So, you need to consider adoption and other things.” And I remember my wife, only later on, she told me she prayed to the Lord and she said, if you give me a child, I promise I will devote my entire life and do whatever, is in your name, and you think I should do. And so she, once we had our first child, she really felt called to be an education, and gave it all up and joined the charter school.Senator Bailey: Oh, yeah. So, you've, you've mentioned this several times, and so obviously, your Christian faith is very important to you, and it's what shapes you, it's what made you into the person that you are today. So, I think that that's Tennessee, and that's who we are.Dr. Sethi: Well, I think it's funny my pastor at my church—I go to McKendree Methodist Church downtown—what he always says about me, he goes you're the kind of guy who's less talk, more action. And I believe that. I believe as Christians we're called to help each other. We're called to help others. I love the Gospel of Matthew, and specifically, Matthew 9, which teaches the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. And I just believe that our faith as Christians is to just reach out in times of need and help people. And for me, there was always no greater calling to do that than as a doctor, and that's how I've lived my faith, and through our nonprofit which I'm sure we'll talk about, Healthy Tennessee. I just feel that we have been able to help and make a difference in the lives of so many and I believe that's what Jesus calls us to do.Senator Bailey: Right. Well, you know, Jesus was a healer. And obviously, you’re in a profession of being a physician, a doctor, you're in the business of helping heal. And so, I think that's good. And you just mentioned something about your nonprofit, Healthy Tennessee, which I think is an extension of, again, you trying to help individuals. So, tell us a little bit about Healthy Tennessee?Dr. Sethi: Yeah. So, about nine, ten years ago, I was just getting very frustrated watching some of these things happen when—especially on the TennCare side, where we were investing so much money in treating disease but not promoting wellness. So, we're spending $10 on the back end to treat diabetes, but we won't spend $1 on the front end for education. So, I just started talking to folks, and I felt like no one was really listening. And one day I volunteered at one of those leadership—I think it was in Wilson County—it was Leadership Wilson County at a health fair. And I went out there with my wife, Maya, and I'm seeing patients and we were driving home, and she looks at me and she said, “what if we did one of these in every county across Tennessee, and really focused on education?” And out of that came Healthy Tennessee. Our first health fair was in Manchester, Tennessee, where I grew up in Coffee County, and we started seeing patients, focusing on getting on the front end of their health. I conned all my trauma nurses and folks to come out there and volunteer. But pretty soon we were going places and we had about 100 healthcare providers coming out of the woodwork to help people. Just people helping people, communities helping communities. We then segued, and we turned it into more of a policy organization at the same time where we brought together almost every community health organization in Tennessee under one roof, created the first of its kind statewide Listserv so that everybody could communicate. We came up with shared goals. Then about two years ago, we did the same thing in the opioid space. And we brought together all of these opioid interests across the state under one roof at one time to talk about this crisis. We've traveled the entire state doing it. We gave Governor Lee a white paper. But at our core, we are a preventative health organization that focuses on the health of rural Tennesseeans. But we've developed this policy arm, and what was incredible about it was President Trump heard about this, and he invited me to the White House—Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Dr. Sethi: —yeah, to talk about it. And so, I met with him, and he loved Healthy Tennessee. He really loved it. And what he loved most about it was that he asked me, I'll never forget, he said, “How much do you think you're spending per patient.” I said, “Less than $5.” And he was just amazed by that. And he couldn't remember Manny, so he nicknamed me Tennessee. And ultimately, then he wanted me to speak at one of his presidential rallies, which I did. And I'm just a big fan. He's a really good man.Senator Bailey: And since you brought up President Trump, don't you find him, when you're one on one with him, to be a very genuine and sincere person?Dr. Sethi: Oh, yeah. Oh, and really funny too. He's just a really—and he's smart like a fox. He knows a lot more than he lets on. And I noticed this, I remember because he started asking these questions about Kentucky Medicaid. When I was with him, he was like, “Explain to me how Kentucky expanded their Medicaid program, and yet Tennessee didn't and your outcomes are about the same, if not better?” which revealed to me that he knows a lot more about what's going on then he wants to let on. Senator Bailey: Yeah, I usually find that to be true. Just this past weekend, he did his town hall with Fox News, and it's just really amazing to see him interact with those reporters as well as those individuals that were able to call into the town hall, and especially one, in particular, question was about why is he so abrasive a lot of times, I guess, is the word that I would choose, towards the media and in his response is because they're just constantly out to get him, and he can't catch a break anywhere, and so he just—but I have had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times in Tennessee, and especially during the when he visited Cookeville right after the tornadoes, and he was just so genuine and sincere to those that were truly hurting there in the Cookeville area. So, what inspired you to run for the US Senate?Dr. Sethi: You know, this is something I've really thought a lot about. And, as I mentioned to you, my parents came to this country in search of the American dream for their unborn kids, and they left everything they knew behind. And, my dad would never see his dad again the night after he left. My mom left her entire family and when you meet her, she's so shy, I cannot even imagine doing what she did. So, they came here, took that risk. And because of that, I got to live the American dream in Tennessee. I truly have. And in my own life, I look and I say, well, what have I done for society? What have I done for Tennessee? And now, I feel like I've made a difference through helping people as a doctor, through Healthy Tennessee, but with this open US Senate Seat, Senator, I feel that it is a generational opportunity to make a difference, but a different kind of difference. And I just deeply in my heart feel it's an opportunity to ensure that the American dream in Tennessee stays alive for the next generation, and that's why I'm running.Senator Bailey: Well, it's certainly a huge challenge running for the US Senate and having to get your message out to all Tennesseeans, and let them know your sincerity level and know that you have a heart for the people of Tennessee and that you truly want to help them. So, let's pivot just a little bit and talk about Washington today. And obviously, our country has been forced into a nationwide shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it's called several things, and first and foremost, our federal government, our Congress, our president has basically spent trillions of dollars now in stimulus packages to help all Americans. But my first question to you is, with your experience in the medical field, how do you think the administration has handled the COVID-19 pandemic?Dr. Sethi: Well, I think the President has done—I applaud him and what he's done. I mean, things are coming at him a mile a minute. And he's making the best decisions he can make. You know, as a trauma surgeon, this is something I frequently have to do. You show up; no case is the same. You're making decisions on the fly. You have no idea what's going to come next. All you can do is make the best decision you can in the moment, and that's what he's been doing, and so I think he's done a great job. But what I do believe is that we have been on—and like the President's been saying—we have been on the defense with this Coronavirus and that we've created a, what I call a horizontal containment strategy where we shut everything down, because to protect those who are at risk. But the issue is, and what our campaign has called for—we put out a white paper about a month ago—is something called a vertical containment strategy. And that is, let's protect those people who are at risk, those people who could get really sick with this virus and then open up the rest of the economy. And in fact, just, I believe, yesterday, there was a paper that was written out of MIT, a bunch of MIT economists, who said that exactly what we're saying, what our campaign said four weeks ago, is that by just opening up the economy, and doing a vertical containment strategy, the mortality rate would be less than 2 percent, but our economic gains would be so much higher, and so we have to open up Tennessee and America.Senator Bailey: Oh, I totally agree. I totally agree. We have seen our nation's greatest economy within about a six week period. Just totally come to a screeching halt. And so, we have to get America moving again and get it back up. And I think you're exactly right. I think those that are most vulnerable to the COVID virus, every precaution needs to be taken to ensure that those individuals are not infected with the virus. But at the same time, we have to get the nation moving again, and especially Tennessee. One thing that, when I speak to constituents, and this is based on several of my medical friends and discussions with them, it's like a 98 to 99 percent recovery rate if you're a healthy individual, and you actually are infected by the COVID virus, so it's just that small percentage of individuals that have underlying health issues or they're at an age that it's just going to be very hard on them. So—Dr. Sethi: Can I just add to that and say one thing?Senator Bailey: Sure, yeah. Absolutely.Dr. Sethi: I mean, think about this for a minute. So, we've definitely saved lives with our strategy, no doubt. This horizontal containment, shutting everything down and keeping people at home. Absolutely. But think about on the back end of this. What about when they shut down the hospitals and people didn't get their colonoscopy, or they didn't get their mammogram and a year from now they're going to find out that they had colon cancer, breast cancer that could have been stopped? Or what about the people who lost their jobs and turn to opioid addiction? Or what about the people who lost their jobs and tried to commit suicide? You know, suicide hotlines are up 1000 times in terms of the volume of their phone calls. So, I believe that everything is a risk-benefit analysis, but doing what we did also lead to losing lives. And so, it's a very tricky decision. Senator Bailey: Absolutely. And I think you bring up a very good point, that there's going to be other consequences to the health of Americans and Tennesseans not just because of the COVID virus, but because of us closing down hospitals to elective surgeries and tests that you referred to, as far as colonoscopies, mammograms, and other tests that individuals. Now, some may have lost their job, which could ultimately mean they've lost their insurance. And so, they may not have the money to come and have those tests performed. So, there’s other underlying health consequences to the fact. So, what advice would you have for Tennesseans that are worried about this pandemic?Dr. Sethi: Well, I'd say first of all, if you're healthy, as you just said earlier, Senator, the likelihood of you getting very sick from this is very low, but the higher likelihood is that you give it to people if you had it without knowing it. And I think the best thing you can do is to wash your hands a lot. Lots of people are asking me these questions about masks. Well, what do you think about masks? And I would tell you, look, if you're in a grocery store and it's crowded, I don’t know, maybe if you got one in your wallet, or your pocket, or your purse, pull it out and use it. I mean, I don't think you really need it in rural areas where the numbers are low. I would say, just do everything you can to stay healthy right now. Take vitamin C, get a lot of sleep, those things are really good for your immune system. But as best you can, I think you need to carry forward with your life. Now, if you do have elderly parents, grandparents, try to keep them away from grocery stores. Try to help them out a little bit. Make sure they're getting what they're what they need. If you can, just call someone that is living by themselves. Just check in on them. That one phone call, even 10 minutes of engagement with somebody, it just can really change their entire day, and it improves their health. And so, there's a lot of things that we could all do as citizens of Tennessee. I mean, look, I'm just telling you right now, the thing I learned from Healthy Tennessee is we are different in this state than other places. This is truly the volunteer state and people care about people, and I have seen this, Saturday, after Saturday, after Saturday, running around the state having health fairs.Senator Bailey: Exactly. And you know, [laughs], so funny living in a rural area, if you've driven by Lowe's, Home Depot, Kroger, Walmart, any of those big box stores, the parking lots are packed, the stores are packed. My comment is man, that people are elbow to elbow in those places. That should have been the petri dish for the virus, and obviously we haven't seen a huge outbreak, in rural areas especially, even though there's lots and lots of people that are going to these stores, especially on the weekends. One of the big box store managers in my district told me that their largest sales day had been Black Friday, until just a couple of weeks ago, right after the shutdown took place in the first real pretty Saturday, they were up $100,000 over their largest day ever. And they just were running out of product because people were coming in to do all those little at-home projects that people were confined to do. Let me ask you a question, now. You're a trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt. And what role have you played here recently as far as COVID, have you been on the front line treating patients that have come into Vanderbilt and can you just elaborate just a little bit about what role you've played just recently at Vanderbilt because I know that that you've had had to extend the amount of time that you spend at the hospital? So, tell us a little bit about that.Dr. Sethi: Well, we went from doing five to six events every day across Tennessee to suddenly I was called and just asked, “Can you come back to the hospital?” because what was happening was a lot of these hospitals were closed down because they didn't have the PPE: the gowns, the gloves, the masks because a lot of the stuff is made in China. Well, maybe we can cross back over to that in a little bit, so all these patients started coming to Vanderbilt and the trauma volume picked up. Now, some of these patients had the Coronavirus, and you got to take care of them, and I was in the Coronavirus units. And, in the beginning, it's pretty anxiety-provoking because, look, I lost a friend of mine in New York. Went to med school with him. He was a buddy of mine. He was on the front lines of this. Another one of my buddies, another doctor was admitted here for five or six days, almost on a ventilator. And so, I had to have this talk with my wife about, “Look, here's the will, this is where this is where that is if something were to happen to me.” And that was almost surreal, that we were having to have this conversation. And, you're in these units, and patients can't have their family around because no family can be around, so they're all alone. And the only interaction they can have is by FaceTiming with their relatives if they can, or talking on the phone. And you've got to wear this hazmat kind of gear to see them, and so there's no contact, and it's just so rough on the patients. And you come out of these units, and then you got to take off all this stuff and you're worried, “Am I going to pick it up?” And so, it was really anxiety-provoking in the beginning. But over time, I think we've gotten into our stride with this thing. We're learning more about the disease, about how it presents. There's some more treatment therapies now, but I will tell you that, in me, it really reminded me of the incredible privilege it is to be a doctor and to help people in their hour of need. And I almost think it was almost like a reminiscent of World War II call to service of, if you have two arms, two legs, and a stethoscope, you know where you need to be right now. And it didn't come to that in Tennessee like it did in places like in New York, but it was one of the most intense things I've ever gone through. But it also developed so much camaraderie amongst people at Vanderbilt, I've never gotten to know in over 10 years, now I’ve got to know them. The patient transporter, or nurses that I had never met, or just people in the cafeteria, people, you know, we all just kind of came together as this big army. And that that was very neat to be a part of.Senator Bailey: Yeah you get to know people that you've seen their name for 10 years, as you mentioned, but you didn't really know them. So, now you've had an opportunity to get to know them and to know that they have a desire to help people, too. This is Backroads and Backstories, we're interviewing Dr. Manny Sethi, a candidate for the US Senate. Manny, how do you think that this pandemic is going to influence the future of our medical field?Dr. Sethi: Oh, I think it’s going to vastly change the way we think about medicine in America. Now, the first thing is something I mentioned earlier. I think it shows our over-reliance on the Communist Chinese government, when the vast majority of our personal protective gear, and I mean gowns, gloves, when 20 of our medications are made by China that we can't get it here, and you saw all these hospitals across Tennessee running out of supplies. And that's because corporate America, we sold out all this stuff for a few dollars in the 90s, and in last decade. And so, I believe what you're going to see is a lot of that supply chain come back to the United States. And I think that we have to make that a priority, and I think it will become a priority because it's a national security issue. The second thing, I think how it has changed American medicine is the very rapid evolution of telemedicine. Now, telemedicine has been around for a long time, I've been using it for 10 years. I mean, I got patients in Gibson County, or Giles County, or wherever they're at, and they can't come in because they frankly don't have the money for the gas money. So, I just FaceTime him, and I say, “How you doing? Can I see your wound?” And they show me their wound on FaceTime. And we actually wrote a paper about it a long time ago. Now, but the problem though, is that the federal government has made this so difficult, because of the regulations, and within 10 minutes they just removed all those regulations, all that red tape gone. And so, now, a doctor in Tennessee can talk to a patient in Alabama or a patient in Alabama can talk to a physician in Washington State. So, we've rapidly created the regulatory climate where telemedicine can grow, and we're learning so much about how to do it. And so, 30 percent of my clinic visits a week ago were telemedicine. That had been unheard of. And so, I think those are the two major ways. And a third, though, I think you're going to be able to see competing hospital systems come together in very unique ways. In times of national crisis. Like these hospital systems in New York, they're all competitors, they all banded together. Same deal in Nashville, all these hospital systems came together, across Tennessee: Ballad Health, Vanderbilt, everybody got together—the UT System. And so, I think there will be a lot that we have learned.Senator Bailey: You touched on something, and I want to bring up two points. Number one is because of our relationship with China, and because so much of corporate America has sold out to China in regards to manufacturing products, but also our now national debt that we continue to accumulate, and especially during this pandemic. I think the last—during our last great recession, that it was like $1.2 or $1.3 trillion that we added, but just, basically, in about six weeks, we have accumulated over $3 trillion in national debt. So, you brought up national security in regards to medical supplies, and other products that's critical to the medical field, but this is also a national security issue for our entire country. Dr. Sethi: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: With the fact that China is actually buying most of our national debt. Dr. Sethi: That's right. Senator Bailey: So, tell me just a little bit about your thoughts as a US Senator. Let's just transition from Dr. Manny Sethi the trauma surgeon to now, Manny Sethi who has been elected as the US Senator. Tell me a little bit about your thoughts on our national debt and our relationship with China and how you believe that that has become a national security issue.Dr. Sethi: So, let me talk about the debt first. And then, we can talk about our foreign policy with China. So, you're exactly right. Now, I've seen figures of almost $4.3 trillion, which is where it's going to come to over the next year. And that's a huge problem. I mean, we're going to be passing this debt on to our kids, our grandkids, our great-grandkids. And it's absolutely a national security problem when we've got this debt, and who's buying it? China. And one day, they're going to come calling. Now, I want to just tell you this story. So, as you mentioned, I'm a doctor, and I'm not an economist, but it just would have seemed to me that we're just throwing cash out of helicopters right now hoping that it lands in the right place. So, I talked to a nationally known economist last week. I emailed. I said, “Hey, I'd like to get an educational session with you.” And we're talking and I said, “Well, here's the thing. There's a drug, it's called gentamicin, all right? You give gentamicin in an IV, it’s really bad for you because it goes all over the body; systemically is what we call it, but if you give it locally in a high dose, it's very effective. Okay. So, locally, you give it: great drug. You give it through the body: bad drug; can kill you.” So, I said to this guy, I said, “Okay, we're throwing this money out of helicopters here. How do we know that these trillion-dollar stimulus packages are getting to the right place? How do we know that it's helping small businesses like in Tennessee? Can you explain to me the feedback mechanism, because as a Senator, I'd like to know.” So, he kind of explains to me about the FDIC, and the Fed Reserve, and all this stuff. And then, I just keep coming back. I said, “Okay, I get all that. Can you tell me, how do you know that this money is getting the right place? Like, what's the feedback?” He's like, “There is none.” And that's our problem, right there. That is our problem. We, instead of being strategic and surgical about this, are just tossing money out of helicopters, hoping that it's going to get to the right place. And meanwhile—so who's gaining from this? Wall Street, big banks, big corporations, but when the small business guy in Crossville, it's not helping him, well it might, if the community banks are doing whatever they can do, and I applaud all those community banks, but the bottom line is, I believe that we're raising our deficit without getting this money strategically into the right hands. So, the things that we have to do are, if we are going to do any more stimulus packages, it's got to be more surgical. We got to know that it's going to help people. We've got to cut our spending; our discretionary spending continues to be out of control. I mean, we've got programs like in the Department of Education, they are spending millions and millions of dollars on things like cultural competency education for children, and I don't understand that. We're spending billions of dollars on healthcare in our country, trying to treat disease instead of promote wellness, and the example that I'll point to you is our Medicaid systems across our country which are broken. And I believe what we should do is we should give more responsibility, more authority back to the states. Let states like Tennessee design what plans you want. I believe it will save money, will cover so many more lives. And so, I believe that's how we're going to be able to tackle our debt in the future, but it's got to be—we have to control our spending, but we are not going to be able to withstand these kinds of stimulus packages. And my feeling is that we have to be more targeted. And the second part of your question regarding China. Look, our interrelationship with a communist entity is very concerning to me. Now, if I were to tell you, “Hey Senator, our entire oil reserve is dependent on a communist government.” You'd probably say, “That's a real problem right there, Manny.” And I'd say, “Yes, it is.” Because, just like the oil, our medications, our gowns, our gloves, we are way too dependent on the Chinese for our supply chains. And that is because, again, years and years of corporate America, and career politicians selling us down the road. And so, we have to bring a lot of this back to the United States. We have to reduce our dependence both financially and industrially from the Chinese. And if I'm your next US Senator, we're going to be talking a lot about that.Senator Bailey: Very good. I know that those are certainly things that weigh heavy on my mind as our national debt, that we continue to increase, and especially just here in the past few weeks, which ultimately, again, rolls over to national security for our country. So, tell me just a little bit about some of the other policies that are near and dear to Manny Sethi, and what you would really like to work on as a US Senator?Dr. Sethi: Sure, thanks. I think there are three big issues that I want to tackle as a US senator. The first is Obamacare. I think the time has come where we really need to repeal and replace this. All these establishment Republicans have claimed that they'll do it. No one's gotten it done. I have a free market base plan that focuses on pricing transparency, on an individual insurance market, on paying for prevention, and we can finally do that. The second issue, and we don't talk about it enough, is this opioid crisis that is killing a generation of our youth across the state. I have been focused on this issue for the last two years. Traveling the state, talking to local mayors, local sheriffs, recovering addicts, faith-based recovery folks, drug recovery courts. And the problem is the federal government has a one size fits all solution to this problem; it's not going to get it done. We need to empower local mayors, local sheriffs, the people who know what's going on in their communities. That's the way we solve this problem, and I believe that we can do that with more local control because let's face it, these local mayors and sheriffs have more knowledge about this issue in their pinky than federal legislators do in their entire body and I recognize that. And finally, is immigration. Now look, I'm the child of two immigrants. That's no secret, and I was born here. But look, my parents stood in line. They waited their turn, and that's the American way, and I’ll just be very frank with you. And if I'm in the US Senate, we're going to get rid of this chain-based migration stuff. We're going to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants, and I will push for a pause on all legal immigration until we get our unemployment rates down and get America back to work. There is no reason right now that we should have competition from foreign labor. There's just not.Senator Bailey: [laughs]. Well, those are three great policy issues that definitely need to be tackled, and glad to hear that those are near and dear to your heart. Just a quick observation. Just this past week, San Diego, California is now asking the federal government to come and make sure that the border is closed. To keep—Dr. Sethi: [laughs]. Wow, times have changed.Senator Bailey: [laughs]. You know, exactly. It was open border, open border, and now with this pandemic, they're asking the federal government to come to make sure that no one is crossing into California now. So, it's funny how just one little virus can certainly change a course of a state. And so, that was very interesting. Just before we close out, I guess, my final question to you today—and thank you very much for being here, and being a part of our podcast, and I know the people of the Upper Cumberland and Tennessee will find this very informative—but if there's one thing that you would like Tennesseans to know about Dr. Manny Sethi, what would it be?Dr. Sethi: It’s a great question. You know, Senator, I think it would be that my faith in Jesus Christ has driven my life to serve, whether that's as a doctor, or through my nonprofit work, and if the people in the Upper Cumberland are looking for a conservative outsider, someone who doesn't owe anyone anything, and wants to just help the people of Tennessee, and make a difference, and fight for you, then I would encourage you to go to drmannyforsenate.com to join us, to join our movement. And 40 years ago, folks in places like Cumberland County gave these two immigrants from India a chance. You opened your doors, and look what happened next. I became a doctor. My brother became a doctor. I've lived the American dream in Tennessee, and 40 years later, the child of those two immigrants, this kid from Coffee County, I'm asking you to take a chance on me and send me to the United States Senate and let's fight together to solve some of the greatest issues of our time.Senator Bailey: Very good, very good. And again, thank you for joining us.Dr. Sethi: Thank you.Senator Bailey: This is Senator Paul Bailey with Backroads and Backstories, thanking our guest Dr. Manny Sethi for joining us today; candidate for the US Senate. As of today and the recording of this podcast, we have extended an invitation to Ambassador Bill Haggerty to also join us on Backroads and Backstories to meet the people of the Upper Cumberland and Tennessee, as well. Thank you for joining.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
Embattled speaker returns from vacation as Manny Sethi announces U.S. Senate bid
Grand Divisions: A Politics Podcast
On this episode, we discuss the latest developments of the ongoing ordeal surrounding the House speaker, Glen Casada. Beyond Casada, Tennessee's U.S. Senate race for the seat long-held by Lamar Alexander began a new chapter this week, after Nashville orthopedic trauma surgeon Manny Sethi told The Tennessean he was launching a bid for the GOP nomination. Sethi said his campaign will focus on three areas: immigration, health care and combating the opioid crisis.