Former President George H.W. Bush is still in the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital. A family spokesman said Thursday: "No news is good news."
HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush remained in the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital on Thursday, but his longtime chief of staff issued a reassuring message, urging the media and the public to "put the harps back in the closet."
Bush, 88, a Republican who during his one term in office led a coalition of nations that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991, was admitted to Methodist Hospital Nov. 23 for bronchitis.
He was transferred to intensive care on Sunday after setbacks including a persistent fever, family spokesman Jim McGrath has said.
"I don't have any guidance so far today except to say no news is good news," McGrath said on Thursday. Hospital spokesman George Kovacik added that the former president remained in intensive care on Thursday.
But in a statement addressed to the "national media" on Bush's condition on Thursday, chief of staff Jean Becker sought to strike an upbeat tone.
"Yes, President Bush is in ICU where he is getting the best medical care in the world," she wrote. "Is he sick? Yes. Does he plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of staying put.
"He would ask me to tell you to please 'put the harps back in the closet,'" she said.
On a more serious note, Becker said her boss was expected to remain in the hospital for "a while," adding, "He is 88 years old, he had a terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a series of complications." She did not elaborate.
Bush was admitted in November for a lingering cough related to bronchitis after having been in and out of the hospital for complications related to the illness.
Earlier Wednesday, McGrath said, a fever that kept Bush in the hospital over Christmas had gotten worse and that doctors had put him on a liquids-only diet.
"It's an elevated fever, so it's actually gone up in the last day or two," McGrath told The Associated Press. "It's a stubborn fever that won't go away."
But he said the cough that initially brought Bush to the hospital has improved.
Bush was visited on Christmas by his wife, Barbara, his son, Neil, and Neil's wife, Maria, and a grandson, McGrath said. Bush's daughter, Dorothy, was expected to arrive in Houston from Bethesda, Md. The 41st president has also been visited twice by his sons, George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
Bush and his wife live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The former president was a naval aviator in World War II — at one point the youngest in the Navy — and was shot down over the Pacific. He attracted attention in retirement for skydiving on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House in 1992.