PHOENIX - The pictures that line the hall of Dr. Connie Mariano's office grab your attention and indicate she has a story to tell. The photos are a " whose who " of former patients, all of them presidents, vice presidents and their wives.
"I have a medical concierges practice, in other words rather than taking care of one president, I take care of about 300 and their families," Doctor Mariano said.
Ironically the doctor who worked for the Clinton administration, which tried unsuccessfully to bring universal health care to the U.S., has brought a very different kind of health care to Arizona. That on call feeling is not unusual to Mariano, she lived it during her nine years as the White House Doctor. These days however,because she's written a book about her experiences at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, she also finds herself at book signings with her husband, daughter-in-law and two sons.
With the job of White House doctor came some interesting realities such as training with the secret service, for a job that could actually be dangerous.
"The zone around the president we used to call the kill zone and we try to stay close enough so we can see him and respond to his needs in case he's sick, but far enough away so we don't get injured if somebody tries to attack him," she said.
Most of the time however, being in the president's company meant seeing the world and meeting its major players. Once, she says the King of Spain Juan Carlos flirted with her aboard his yacht and she spent the 50th anniversary of D Day, with the Clintons in royal fashion on Queen Elizabeth's yacht.
Of course the Clinton administration did have more than its share of drama, and Mariano had a role in that as well.
"I was the physician that Ken Starr ordered to draw the blood on Bill Clinton that linked him to the DNA on Monica Lewinsky's infamous blue dress," she said.
Mariano is perhaps most proud of the changes she brought to the White House doctors' role , a round the clock system that is designed for any emergency.
"So wherever the president and vice president goes nowadays, they always have a doctor not too far away from them," Mariano said.
Doctor Mariano will be a guest speaker at the Arizona Women's Leadership forum which is open to the public with reservations required on July 15 at 4:30 P.M. This event will be conducted at the Phoenician Resort, at 6000 E. Camelback Rd., in Scottsdale. For more information call 602-861-9350 or visit azleadersforum.com