HOUSTON - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who has been hospitalized for more than a month, is getting excellent medical treatment and would advise people to "put the harps back in the closet," his longtime Texas chief of staff said. There was no update on his condition Friday.
Jean Becker pointed out in her statement Thursday evening that the 88-year-old Bush likely will be in the hospital for a while after a "terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a series of complications."
Bush, the oldest living former U.S. president, has been in intensive care since Sunday. He was admitted to a Texas hospital on Nov. 23 for treatment of what his spokesman Jim McGrath described as a "stubborn" cough. He spent about a week there earlier in November for treatment of the same condition.
McGrath and a hospital spokesman did not provide any new information on Bush's health Friday morning. McGrath said previously that only changes in Bush's condition would prompt updates.
Becker said "most of the civilized world" contacted her Wednesday after disclosures Bush had been placed in the intensive care unit after physicians were having difficulty bringing a fever under control.
"Someday President George H.W. Bush might realize how beloved he is, but of course one of the reasons why he is so beloved is because he has no idea," Becker said in the at-times lighthearted statement that made multiple references to the former president's sense of humour.
She said updates about Bush's condition have been limited "out of respect for President Bush and the Bush family who, like most of us, prefer to deal with health issues in privacy." She said another factor was "because he is so beloved we knew everyone would overreact."
"I hope you all know how much your love, concern and support are appreciated," Becker said.
While the president's treatment was "unequaled anywhere," she said prayers also were needed and welcomed.
It had been hoped Bush would be well enough to spend Christmas this week at home. But while his cough improved, he developed a persistent fever and his condition was downgraded to "guarded."
The former president has had visits from family and friends, including longtime friend James Baker III, his
Bush, the 41st president, had served two terms as Ronald Reagan's vice-president when he was elected in 1988 to succeed Reagan. Four years later, after a term highlighted by the success of the 1991 Gulf War in Kuwait, he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton amid voters' concerns about the economy.
Bush skydived on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House, most recently when he turned 85.
Bush now has a form of Parkinson's disease that forced him in recent years to use a motorized scooter or wheelchair for mobility.