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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Ford's Physicians Hold News Conference

Aired May 17, 2003 - 17:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're anticipating a press conference just any moment now from Rancho Mirage, California. Two doctors, Dr. Alan Kiselstein and Andrew Rubin -- they are supposed to be updating reporters on the exact condition of former President Gerald Ford. President Gerald Ford, of course, has been hospitalized since he reported feeling dizzy while playing golf in what was described as 96-degree heat. This occurred, of course, yesterday. He apparently initially had visited the hospital, then was released, then went back. Let's listen in.
AUBREY SURFLING, PRES., CEO, EISENHOWER MEDICAL CENTER: My name is Aubrey Surfling, and I'm the president and CEO here at Eisenhower Medical Center. In just a second, I'm going to introduce Dr. Kiselstein and Dr. Rubin.

But before I do that, one of the things I'd like to say is that the new federal privacy law, which we're all struggling with, is making meetings like this very difficult. We're very limited in what we can say, and in some sense I feel like the new law has replaced common sense in terms of these kinds of interactions. But nonetheless, it is the law and we have to abide by it. So in terms of the question and the answers, the physicians are going to be quite limited in the scope of their response. But thank you very much. And Dr. Kiselstein and Dr. Rubin.

QUESTION: Doctor, excuse me if you could first introduce yourself and spell your names, we would appreciate it.

DR. ALAN KISELSTEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT FORD'S PHYSICIAN: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will provide all of that to you as well.

KISELSTEIN: I'm Dr. Alan Kiselstein, that's k-i-s-e-l-s-t-e-i-n. I practice internal medicine at Eisenhower Medical Center.

DR. ANDREW RUBIN, FORMER PRES. FORD'S PHYSICIAN: Andrew Rubin, r-u-b-i-n, one of the cardiologists, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Eisenhower.

KISELSTEIN: For several days, President Ford has been experiencing episodes of light-headedness, associated with changes in his blood pressure. A particularly severe episode occurred yesterday, while the former president was playing golf in very warm temperatures. The particular causes of these episodes are multiple, complex and interactive. At this point, none of them appears life-threatening. They are rather more related to the aging process. When President Ford left the emergency room yesterday, after appropriate treatment for the episode on the golf course, he was upright, ambulatory, smiling and feeling quite well. His blood pressures were normal, when measured in all positions. After returning home, however, he appeared a bit less vigorous than his usual energetic self to his family, so Mr. and Mrs. Ford and I decided to continue treatment in a monitored environment.

The treatment requires fine-tuning of several medications. The hospital offers Mr. Ford and his physicians an environment where he can be carefully monitored while his medications are being adjusted.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

KISELSTEIN: I can take some questions.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit, please, about his feelings, what he might have said to you about how he's doing, anything like that?

KISELSTEIN: His primarily question each time I evaluated him is, when can I go home? He really feels quite well right now. He's perfectly stable. He's responding to treatment. And he has no complaints physically at this point.

QUESTION: When will he be able to go home? Will he be discharged today?

KISELSTEIN: Fortunately, we anticipate a very short hospital stay. And in all probability, he will be going home later today.

QUESTION: When did he come in today?

KISELSTEIN: He actually came in yesterday, in the early evening.

QUESTION: So he has been -- I thought you said he had gone home.

KISELSTEIN: He was in the emergency room for a few hours yesterday afternoon, receiving treatment. He then went home but returned last evening.

QUESTION: How long was he home for, any idea?

KISELSTEIN: Perhaps an hour and a half.

COOPER: All right, we're going to dip out of this. You have been listening to a press conference given by Dr. Alan Kiselstein in Rancho Mirage, California, basically saying former President Ford is not experiencing life-threatening symptoms. He does have multiple, complex and interactive symptoms. For several days, he's been experienced episodes, the doctor said, most recent one on the golf course, but he's apparently doing OK, feeling fine, wants to go home. Doctors have not yet said when that may be possible.

We'll continue to follow this story.

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