Bush family confident ex-president will be released soon

HOUSTON - The family of George H.W. Bush expressed confidence Thursday that the former president will be released shortly from an intensive care unit at a Houston hospital, where he is being treated for an elevated fever.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said Bush was moved into the ICU so hospital personnel could more easily keep tabs on his condition, and that his family members were fully confident in the medical staff treating him. His most recent illness does not relate to his diagnosed Parkinsonism, McGrath said. On Wednesday, McGrath said Bush was in guarded condition and on a liquid diet. He added Thursday that the 41st president was being treated with Tylenol, among other things.

Doctors were initially treating Bush for bronchitis and a lingering cough. More recently he had been undergoing physical therapy in preparation for returning home, but developed a fever last week and began experiencing other complications that McGrath described as "a series of setbacks."

Bush was visited on Christmas by family members including his wife, Barbara, son Neil, daughter-in-law Maria and grandson Pierce. His daughter Doro visited Wednesday. At 88, Bush is the oldest living former president, edging out Jimmy Carter by about four months.

"His mood is relentlessly positive and includes humorous banter with his doctor," McGrath said Wednesday morning.

Bush was first hospitalized from November 7 to 19, and then was readmitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on November 23. Bush and his wife live part of the year in Houston and spend summers at their compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

In mid-December, his doctors expressed optimism he would be home for Christmas, but the fever and other complications have interfered with those plans.

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