Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was discharged from a New York City hospital and is expected to make a full recovery from the ailments that kept her from public view for more than three weeks, according to the State Department.
“She’s eager to get back to the office, and we will keep you updated on her schedule as it becomes clearer in the coming days,” Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs and a long-time Clinton aide, said in a statement yesterday.
Clinton was hospitalized on Dec. 30 for a blood clot found that day between her brain and skull, according to her aides. They said the clot was discovered when an MRI scan was performed during a check-up before Clinton’s planned return to work at the State Department. Earlier, the secretary suffered a concussion three weeks ago after fainting at home from dehydration while ill with a stomach virus, the aides have said.
Clinton’s medical team advised yesterday that she is “making good progress on all fronts, and they are confident she will make a full recovery,” Reines said in his e-mailed statement.
A former first lady, U.S. senator and presidential candidate, Clinton, 65, is one of the world’s best-known figures and ranks in polls as the early Democratic favorite for president in 2016 if she chooses to run again. In a Gallup survey of Americans released over the weekend, she ranked as the most-admired woman in the world for the 11th consecutive year.
Until Clinton’s hospital discharge was announced, the lack of detailed information on her condition created a vacuum that was filled in part by speculation and misinformation. Her staffers had provided terse and intermittent updates on her health since she last appeared at a public event, in Belfast on Dec. 7.
Hours before her discharge, State Department officials declined yesterday to reply directly when asked whether Clinton was still a patient at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Conflicting news reports emerged when Clinton, looking well and walking unassisted, was spotted climbing into a black Ford Explorer outside a hospital building. The Mail Online, website of the Daily Mail tabloid in the U.K., ran photos of the Clintons.
Reines at the time had no public comment on the images of Clinton departing a building at the hospital accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, who was smiling, and their daughter, Chelsea. NBC News posted a Twitter message saying she was released from the hospital and then posted a new message saying she hadn’t.
After CNN aired footage of the Clintons leaving a hospital building, a correspondent for the cable news network said it wasn’t clear whether the secretary had left only temporarily. The Associated Press reported that Clinton had gone for tests in another building of the hospital complex and returned.
“Being forthright with very basic information about the secretary’s whereabouts and condition would be optimum and would serve to keep the record straight and the rumor mill at bay,” Jamie Moss, founder and president of newsPRos, a national media-relations firm based in New York, said in an interview.
Moss, a lawyer and former journalist, credited Clinton’s team and her doctors with explaining her condition on Dec. 31. Still, she was among crisis-management specialists who questioned why the secretary’s aides didn’t say more sooner, such as disclosing the location of the clot the day it was discovered.
“If her PR team is concerned about the implications of her medical condition for her future political career, putting the facts out and keeping speculation to a minimum would be in their best interest,” Moss said.
The secretary of state, who would turn 69 during the 2016 election year, has repeatedly dismissed speculation that she may run for president again.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the notion that the department hasn’t been open enough in reporting on Clinton’s health. She also dismissed reporters’ requests to make Clinton’s medical team available to answer questions directly.
The department had issued eight statements in the last three weeks, two of which had been signed by Clinton’s physicians, Nuland said before the announcement of her discharge. “Her doctors have been quite forthcoming in the two statements they have issued,” Nuland said yesterday.
Nuland also portrayed Clinton as “quite active on the phone,” talking with her aides regularly.
Clinton phoned United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani to discuss Syria and other Middle East issues on Dec. 29, according to Nuland.
As secretary of state, Clinton traveled 949,706 miles and visited 112 countries over 401 days, according to the State Department website. Now, she has said she intends to pursue her advocacy for women and children outside of government after leaving the State Department at the start of President Barack Obama’s second term.
Obama last month named Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his choice to succeed Clinton.
Clinton has said she will testify before Congress when she recovers about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Some Republican senators have said they won’t consider Kerry’s nomination to replace her until Clinton testifies.
Clinton’s daughter punctuated the day’s coverage with a comment last night.
“Grateful my Mom discharged from the hospital & is heading home. Even more grateful her medical team confident she’ll make a full recovery,” Chelsea Clinton said in a Twitter message.