Former President George H.W. Bush has been admitted to the intensive care unit at Houston’s Methodist Hospital to address a respiratory problem from pneumonia and his wife also has been hospitalized, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The 92-year-old former president was placed under sedation for a procedure to protect and clear his airway, spokesman Jim McGrath said. He is stable and resting comfortably. He has been in the hospital since Saturday.
Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, also has been hospitalized as a precaution after experiencing fatigue and coughing. She is 91.
The couple marked their 72nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 6.
President Barack Obama told reporters Wednesday at the beginning of his final press conference from the White House that he has been in touch with the family.
“They have not only dedicated their lives to this country, they have been a constant source of friendship and support and good counsel” over the years, Obama said at a White House news conference. “They are as fine a couple as we know,” he said, calling the Bushes “really good people.”
McGrath told CNN that the 41st president has been hospitalized since Saturday. He said Bush is responding well to treatments.
Bush, who served a single term as president from 1989 to 1993, was already not expected to attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington on Friday due to health concerns.
Bush sent a letter to Trump on Jan. 10, apologizing for missing the ceremony and saying that he and Barbara “wish you the very best as you begin this incredible journey of leading our great country.”
“My doctor says if I sit outside in January, it likely will put me six feet under. Same for Barbara,” Bush wrote, in a letter first reported by ABC News. “So I guess we’re stuck in Texas.”
President-elect Donald Trump sent his well wishes to the couple on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
Several bouts with illness have kept the 92-year-old out of the spotlight in recent years and he has rarely made public remarks.
Previous health concerns
Bush revealed several years ago that he suffered from a form of Parkinson’s disease that left him unable to walk. He uses a wheelchair or a scooter to get around and had two other health scares in 2014 and 2015.
In December 2014, he was hospitalized after experiencing shortness of breath, and the following July fell at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, breaking the C2 vertebrae in his neck.
The injury did not result in any neurological problems, his spokesman said at the time.