Ford responding to pneumonia treatment |

Ford responding to pneumonia treatment

Former President Gerald Ford prepares to address a National Press Club luncheon in Washington in this Monday, June 3, 2002 file photo. AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert, File

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) ” Former President Gerald R. Ford was responding to treatment for pneumonia that put him in the hospital during the weekend, his chief of staff said Tuesday.

The hospitalization was the second time in five weeks that Ford, 92, has been admitted to Eisenhower Medical Center near his Thunderbird Estates home.

“He is responding to treatment and doing well,” his chief of staff, Penny Circle, said in a brief statement.

“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,” Circle said. She said there would be nothing further until a statement Wednesday.

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.

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Ford, who owns a home in Beaver Creek and has been a longtime visitor to the Vail Valley, was admitted to Eisenhower on Saturday afternoon, but word didn’t leak out until Monday. Ford has kept his personal life private and he has declined 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.

Citing patient privacy, hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Wholihan referred callers to Circle’s written statement.

Ford became the nation’s oldest living former president after the death of Ronald Reagan on June 5, 2004.

Ford 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 Beaver Creek.

Ford had strokes in 2000 and was hospitalized briefly in 2003 after suffering a dizzy spell while playing golf in near-100 degree temperatures 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 Ford has participated in since moving to Rancho Mirage. He hasn’t played at the contest in recent years but he takes part in the festivities and was expected back this month.

Last year, he presented the winner’s trophy with Hope’s widow, Dolores Hope. Tournament chairman Steve Morton told the Palm Springs Desert Sun that Ford indicated he planned to return 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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