ABC’s Clayton Sandell, Gina Sunseri and Anna Maria Gibson Report:
Former President George H.W. Bush was moved out of the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital today where he has been a patient for over a month, his spokesman said.
“President Bush’s condition has improved, so he has been moved today from the intensive care unit to a regular patient room at The Methodist Hospital to continue his recovery. The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.
The 88-year-old former chief executive was admitted to Houston’s Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23, suffering from a lingering cough related to bronchitis.
The 41st president also got a “real shot in the arm” from being serenaded over the phone by country music superstars the Oak Ridge Boys, McGrath said.
“Barbara Bush requested that we call the President and sing to him! All of the Oak Ridge Boys are on vacation, but we all headed to our office upon hearing of this request,” said a statement from singer Duane Allen.
“We asked what song he would like to hear and he said ELVIRA so we blasted some oom pop a mau mau’s in the direction of Houston, Texas,” Allen said.
“I love him like a father, he’s always treated the Oak Ridge Boys like family,” Allen said in an interview with ABC News Radio from Nashville. “It was great to cheer him up and he’s such a dear friend and it made us feel good that he would even want to her us sing.”
After “Elvira”, the band finished up with a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
“Words cannot properly express how much The Oaks’ special performance meant to the President and the Bush family,” McGrath said in a statement. “This friendship goes back many years, and what happened yesterday gave the President a real shot in the arm as he, thankfully, continues to improve.”
Bush was moved to the intensive care unit and placed on a liquids-only diet on Dec. 23 after a “series of setbacks” including a persistent fever, McGrath said.
Two days after Christmas, Bush’s chief of staff Jean Becker sent an email to family and friends saying the octogenarian former commander-in-chief had no plans to go anywhere soon, and to tell everyone to “put the harps back in the closet.”