HOUSTON (AP) — Former 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 Houston chief of staff said Thursday evening.
But Jean Becker also pointed out in her statement that the 88-year-old Bush is sick and 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 president, has been in intensive care since Sunday. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on Nov. 23 for treatment of what his spokesman Jim McGrath described as a "stubborn" cough. He had spent about a week there earlier in November for treatment of the same condition.
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 jokes and the former president's sense of humor.
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.
"I am thinking heaven has not seen such a barrage of prayer intentions since 'It's a Wonderful Life,'" she said, referring to the classic Christmas movie.
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