When the first Senate seat to come open in years in Pennsylvania was vacated by Republican Pat Toomey, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman jumped at the chance to run in November 2022 for Congress. His opponent was well-known Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz. who was thought to be a strong contender for the seat in Congress representing the battleground state.
In May 2022, Fetterman had a stroke while campaigning and has been experiencing ongoing auditory processing issues ever since. He needed a pacemaker installed, and for two months he did not return to the campaign trail, doing only video appearances. After staying off the campaign trail for a few months, he jumped back in time to engage in some fundraisers and a disastrous debate against his Trump-backed Republican opponent, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman did go back on the road after that, using closed captioning for some interviews.
Fetterman won the close race, but one month after his Senate inauguration, he was hospitalized in Washington, D.C. due to lightheadedness. The Democrat then returned to the hospital the following week, this time for clinical depression treatment, Conservative Brief reports.
Last week, Fetterman’s team spoke to NBC News for a segment the network did on the senator being checked into the hospital for the second time in two weeks and said that the topic of resignation was “never discussed and is not on the table.”
His staff issued a statement:
“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s Chief of Staff said when his team announced the senator’s situation on Thursday. “After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself,” he said, but he did not indicate how long the senator would be on the shelf.
“On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis,” Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson noted in a statement, CNN reported at the time.
There are calls for Fetterman to step down due to his health problems, but Pennsylvania’s new Democratic governor is refusing to act to replace ailing Sen. John Fetterman despite his increasingly frequent trips to hospitals for various treatments.
Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro said this week he won’t ask Fetterman to step down though he has been seen recently for health issues related to last year’s severe stroke and checked into a hospital last week with a diagnosis of clinical depression.
Shapiro told The Inquirer that if any Democrats asked him to tell Fetterman to step down, he would “dismiss it immediately.” He said he thinks that Fetterman will “come back stronger than ever” after his hospital stay, which is expected to last for several weeks. “He’s going to get the help that he needs… and do a great job for the people of Pennsylvania as their senator for a long time,” Shapiro told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News Contributor and Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, commented on Fetterman’s ability to continue serving as a senator in his current medical condition, stating that he is unlikely to be able to return to work in the near future, the network reported.
“It’s both biochemical and psychological and sociological, and a lot of pressure on him trying to perform up to the level of a US senator, whatever that means these days,” he said after reports noted that Fetterman had checked in for mental health care, Conservative Brief noted.
Siegel noted he is “not his doctor” and therefore does not “know exactly what prompted this,” but went on to say that if the Pennsylvania Democrat “feels that he needs to be in a hospital, then I would conclude or infer that the level of depression is significant enough so that he really can’t go back to work anytime in the immediate future.”
CNN reports that Dr. Will Cronenwett, Chief of Psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine addressed Fetterman’s condition in a news release on Friday, saying in part, “A lot of people with stroke have to adjust to a new reality of what their body and brain can do. And in some people that adjustment can lead to depression.”
Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, noted on Thursday that she is “so proud of him for asking for help,” CNN noted. “After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs,” she tweeted. “This is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy.”
After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs. pic.twitter.com/SfuwWTSUcG
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) February 16, 2023