By Deborah Quinn Hensel
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former President George H.W. Bush's condition improved enough for him to be moved on Saturday out of the intensive care unit and into a regular room at the Houston hospital where he was admitted last month for respiratory problems, a spokesman said.
Bush, 88, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, entered Methodist Hospital on November 23 for treatment of what doctors said was bronchitis, and he was moved into the ICU last Sunday after suffering a number of medical complications, including a persistent fever.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the air passages through the lungs.
"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 family said in a statement from his spokesman, Jim McGrath.
"The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes," it added.
McGrath said on Friday that Bush's condition was getting better and that he was even singing at times in his communications with doctors and nurses.
He added in an email reply to Reuters on Saturday, "George Bush is the most relentlessly upbeat man you'll ever meet, and his spirits have been good throughout this ordeal." He declined to disclose any information about Bush's prognosis or how much longer he might remain hospitalized.
Bush, the 41st U.S. president and a Republican, is the father of former President George W. Bush. In a political career spanning four decades, he also served as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, CIA director, and vice president for two terms under Ronald Reagan.
Bush has lower-body parkinsonism, which causes a loss of balance, and has used a wheelchair for more than a year.
(Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)