The truth about Trump’s medical team

When Donald Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus, his medical team wasted no time in whisking him away to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (conveniently located in Bethesda, MD, which sits right on the DC border). As of now, all of the news has been positive as regards his health. He’s apparently being treated with Remdesivir (via WRIC) but has had no side effects, and the attending physicians have announced that he may be released from the hospital as soon as tomorrow.

Still, The Wall Street Journal calls the news out of Walter Reed “mixed,” as the POTUS’ symptoms may have been serious at times, and his doctors have acknowledged trying to be “upbeat” when speaking with the media. CNN goes so far as to imply the medical team may be deliberately avoiding straight answers regarding Trump’s actual condition, but you’ve got to admit, these poor guys are in a tough spot. Whatever they say, or do not say, it’s bound to be the wrong thing, but then, they’re not spin doctors. What they are, is three of the nation’s top doctors, and, as such, their first priority is actually healing their patient rather than playing nice with the press. So who are the three physicians tasked with ministering to the virus-stricken leader of our country? Let’s meet the Trump treatment team.

Dr. Sean Conley

Dr. Sean Conley, a 40-year-old osteopathic physician from Pennsylvania, is the most prominent of the team members. A Philadelphia Inquirer profile reveals that Conley trained at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before completing a residence at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, VA. In addition to being an osteopath, Conley is board certified in emergency medicine and has served as research director at the Portsmouth Navy Department of Emergency Medicine. He also served in Afghanistan as an emergency physician with the International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar while holding the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy. During his deployment he and his team were granted the Romanian Emblem of Honor for saving the life of a Romanian soldier injured by an IED.

For the past two years, Conley has been the official White House physician, a role he inherited when his predecessor, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, was being considered for Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Conley managed to stay relatively low-key for much of this time, although he did raise a few eyebrows back in May when he apparently approved of Trump’s use of the malaria-drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus preventative. He says, however, that Trump has discontinued its use after testing positive. On the whole, Conley’s updates on the president’s condition have remained pretty positive. He told reporters that Trump is “doing really well,” and optimistically projects that “if everything continues to go well, we’re going to start discharge planning” (via Rev).

Dr. Sean Dooley

The other “Dr. Sean” on the team, Dr. Sean Dooley, M.D., is evidently a man of mystery, at least as far as Google is concerned. eHealthScores only reveals that he is a specialist in Pulmonary Disease Internal Medicine, and that he has a practice at 8901 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD, which just happens to be the street address of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The Johnson City Press yields the additional fact that Dooley graduated from East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, while Sahil Kapur of NBC News adds that Dooley holds the military rank of colonel.

During the press conference held on Saturday, Dooley kept to the party line of cautious optimism. He said the medical staff was “monitoring [Trump] very closely for any evidence of complications either from the coronavirus illness or the therapies we are prescribing to make him better,” but described his famous patient as being “in exceptionally good spirits” (via NPR).

Dr. Brian Garibaldi

Dr. Brian Thomas Garibaldi, M.D., aka “the one not named Sean,” is another pulmonologist, and is also the team’s civilian representative. He’s an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, practicing in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and Interstitial Lung Disease clinic. He’s also the associate program director of the Osler Medical Residency Program where he oversees the curriculum, but one of the most important roles he plays is that of director of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit. He actually played a lead role in creating this special pathogens treatment center and is one of the foremost experts in caring for patients with highly infectious diseases. In addition to his extensive work with COVID-19, he and his team also won an award for their work with the Ebola virus.

Dr. Garibaldi, like the POTUS, is from NYC, but he earned his bachelor’s in biological anthropology from Harvard. He then got his MD at JHU’s School of Medicine, but before doing so, he took a rather unusual gap year. His scholarly efforts at Harvard earned him a fellowship to study in Spain, but the subject of these studies had nothing to do with medicine or science, Instead, Garibaldi spent that year mastering the art of flamenco and classical guitar. So he’s not only a pandemic guru, but probably a lot of fun at parties, too.

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