Gerald Ford responding to pneumonia treatment
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Former President Gerald R. Ford could be released as soon as Thursday after responding well to treatment for the pneumonia that put him in the hospital over the weekend, his chief of staff said.”Decisions regarding his discharge are made on a day-to-day basis, and if all continues to improve, we anticipate his date of discharge as Thursday,” Ford’s chief of staff, Penny Circle, said in a brief statement Tuesday.His hospitalization Saturday marked the second time in five weeks that Ford, 92, has been admitted to Eisenhower Medical Center near his Thunderbird Estates home.In mid-December, the nation’s oldest living, and only unelected, president underwent routine tests at Eisenhower and was hospitalized overnight because of what Circle called “a horrible cold.” It wasn’t clear if the cold led to the bout with pneumonia, she said.Although Ford was admitted to Eisenhower on Saturday afternoon, word didn’t leak out until Monday. The former president has kept his personal life private and declined most interview requests in recent years.”Based on his age, it is prudent for his initial course of treatment – IV antibiotics – to be done at the hospital,” Circle said Monday.Ford became the nation’s oldest living former president after the death of Ronald Reagan on June 5, 2004.He was House minority leader when President Nixon chose him to replace the resigned Spiro Agnew as vice president in 1973. Ford became the nation’s 38th president on Aug. 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.Ford and his wife, Betty, have lived in Rancho Mirage since leaving the White House in 1977. They have another home in Vail, Colo.Ford had strokes in 2000 and was hospitalized briefly in 2003 after suffering a dizzy spell while playing golf in near-100 degree heat at a course near his desert home.Concerns about his health resurfaced in November 2004 when he did not attend the dedication of former President Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas.Ford’s current hospitalization coincides with the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, a golf tournament he has participated in since moving to Rancho Mirage. Although he hasn’t played in recent years, he still takes part in the tournament’s activities, and last year he helped Hope’s widow, Dolores Hope, present the winner’s trophy.Tournament chairman Steve Morton told the Palm Springs Desert Sun the former president is planning to attend again this year.”He expressed to us that if he was feeling up to it, he wouldn’t miss it,” Morton said.
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