As Hillary Clinton’s longtime physician, Lisa Bardack has stayed out of the public spotlight. She hasn’t given interviews. Her colleagues have declined to talk about her relationship with the Democratic presidential candidate. Asked by STAT if she had something nice to say about Bardack, her mother, a rabbi, hung up the phone.
Bardack, in other words, has been a nearly invisible presence in a campaign in which the candidates’ health has become a dominant issue.
“It’s best that she not be profiled until after the election,” said Donna Montalto, a spokeswoman for CareMount Medical, the New York area medical system where Bardack works as chief of internal medicine. “It’s a little bit sensitive.”
Indeed it is. For months, Clinton’s opponents have interpreted her every cough and sneeze as a sign that she is not long for this world. Her recent bout of pneumonia — and her campaign’s delay in disclosing it — has made her health a subject of even broader scrutiny.
That has meant that Bardack has become a subject of significant interest as well, whether she wanted to be or not.
Clinton critics have circulated fake medical records under phony letterhead with Bardack’s name, listing more health problems than anyone could suffer and stay alive.
When video circulated of Clinton falling ill and leaving a Sept. 11 memorial service last weekend, the internet lit up with screen grabs and reports that Bardack was at the candidate’s side.
Those reports appear to have mistaken one of Clinton’s aides for Bardack. The Clinton campaign later released a statement from the doctor saying that Clinton was fighting off pneumonia. On Wednesday, Bardack released another letter regarding Clinton’s health, one that declared she remains “healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.”
Public records and an interview with the former medical director of Bardack’s clinic reveal an internist who has earned the trust of both patients and peers and whose record is without apparent blemish.
“She’s a respected physician with superb training and the highest ethics,” recalled Dr. Abe Levy, former medical director of the Mount Kisco Medical Group, now known as CareMount, who worked with Bardack for more than 20 years.
“Very qualified and very compassionate,” he said, “I always felt comfortable when she was on call for me.”
Bardack grew up in Larchmont, N.Y., in the affluent county of Westchester. Her father, Lester S. Bardack, was president of Ulano International Companies, makers of industrial chemicals. Her sister Amy, like their mother, Judith, is a rabbi, who works for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Bardack studied medicine at New York University, then did her internship and residency at Cornell University Medical Center. She was chief resident for primary care internal medicine before leaving in 1993.
She moved to Mount Kisco Medical Group immediately after her residency, and began seeing Hillary and Bill Clinton shortly after they moved to Chappaqua, when Bill Clinton’s presidential term ended.
The Clintons would show up at the clinic by coming in through a side door and up the stairs, without notifying most of the staff.
As medical director, Levy worked in risk management, and said he would have known about problems.
“I don’t remember any horror stories, and that’s a good thing,” Levy said.
If Hillary Clinton is elected, it’s unclear whether Bardack would accompany her to the White House.
The White House Medical Unit is usually run by a director, chosen by the director of the White House Military Office. The personal physician to the president, however, may be that director, or another physician entirely.
There are no signs that Bardack has involved herself in Clinton’s campaign. Public records do show, however, that Bardack’s mother has contributed $1,200 to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns over the years, and another $1,400 to President Obama and Democratic party coffers.