The White House Doctor
Dr. Connie Mariano is used to breaking barriers, used to shattering the glass ceiling. Born to a Navy father and Filipina mother in the Philippines, Mariano traveled and lived military base to military base, typical of the life of a family in the American armed forces. Along the way she accumulated life experiences and the desire to make her own mark in the world. She has achieved an impressive list of “firsts” that include:
- the first military woman to become the White House Physician to the President
- the first woman Director of the White House Medical Unit
- the first Filipino American in US history to become a Navy Rear Admiral
These amazing achievements are just the tip of the iceberg of accomplishments for this remarkable woman, told with grace, humor and passion in her new book, The White House Doctor: My Patients were Presidents.
Mariano served nine years as White House doctor, first for the final year of the term of George H.W. Bush, then for the entire eight years of Bill Clinton, and lastly, during the first year of George W. Bush’s first term in office. During that time she not only cared for the leader of the free world and the entire First Family, she also cared for dignitaries, and traveled all over the world with the Presidents in her charge. From meeting the Pope four times to greeting King Juan Carlos of Spain to spending a night on the Queen of England’s yacht, Mariano saw a glittering side of life few get to experience.
Glamour aside, being the White House Doctor to the President involved tremendous pressures, including:
- training with the Secret Service for AOP (Attack on the Principal) and water rescue drills
- treating First Lady Hillary Clinton for a blood clot
- treating President Clinton’s mother during her battle with breast cancer
- taking care of President Clinton when he injured his leg
- working inside the METU (Medical Evaluation and Treatment Unit) at Bethesda Naval Hospital, which is set up like a private ward for the President and Vice President, and is never used for anyone else
Mariano also discusses controversies she became a part of simply by being White House Doctor. Many of these centered around the Monica Lewinsky affair involving President Clinton. Mariano was asked to take Clinton’s blood sample to match it with the DNA of the infamous stain on Lewinsky’s dress.
Throughout The White House Doctor, Mariano harkens back to all the hard work she put in to get to this place in her life. And it wasn’t all sunshine and an easy path. She found herself having to fight stereotypes many times, both against women and minorities. This even occurred once she reached the position of Physician to the President. On more than one occasion she found herself being treated like she was hired help, not a doctor. Painful as these times were to her she, was devoted to her work, remembering the great lessons her father instilled in her when she was young. Mariano also is frank about her devotion to her work, which eventually led to a major and painful drawback: her long hours, and dedication to the care of the Presidents and First Families put a strain on her attention to her own family. She talks about the time she raced to get President Clinton and his family Christmas gifts and then realized – almost too late – that she still hadn’t gotten presents for her husband and her own children. The time away for work took its toll on her marriage, which ended in divorce.
Today, Dr. Mariano runs the renowned Center for Executive Medicine in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives. It is a medical concierge practice which provides presidential-quality medical care to CEOs and their families. But her memories remain strong of her time with both Presidents Bush and her eight years caring for President Clinton. Dr. Mariano is available for interviews. I look forward to your coverage of The White House Doctor.