Former President H.W. Bush has been in a battle with bronchitis that has kept him hospitalized since November 23rd. In the latest of several setbacks, he was moved to the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital in Houston on Sunday, due to a persistent fever. He remains in guarded condition, with his family gathered at his side.
President Bush has vascular Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult for him to recover from respiratory infections. Because of chest stiffness, Parkinson’s patients are unable to cough mucus out of their lungs, leading to a worsening of their condition that antibiotics are unable to conquer. When the 88-year-old former president was originally hospitalized with a cough, he was expected to be discharged in a few days, which didn’t happen. The next medical prediction was that he would be home for Christmas, which also didn’t happen. The elevated fever has risen slightly over the last couple of days.
Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath made a public statement Wednesday night about the weekend move to the ICU. He said that Bush has been alert and conversing with medical staff as well as with his wife, Barbara, who has been constantly at his side. However McGrath later told reporters:
“Right now the concept of a release is not really even in the conversation. We’re just taking it one day at a time…
“They don’t put you in the ICU because things are going well.”
While best-known as the 41st President of the United States and as the father of former President George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush has had a long and illustrious career as a public servant. He was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy during World War II, a Congressman from Texas during the ’60s and ’70s, director of the CIA from 1976-1977, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, and Vice President for two terms under Ronald Reagan.
Although Bush was defeated for a second presidential term in 1992 by Bill Clinton, he and Clinton teamed up in recent years for humanitarian causes. In 2004, they raised money for the victims of the tsunami in Asia; in 2005, they repeated the effort on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In the process, the two men became warm personal friends.
As the country awaits further news, President Obama is being kept advised of Bush’s condition.