George H.W. Bush Improves, Leaves ICU

The former president received a call from the Oak Ridge Boys, who sang him two songs.

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In this photo from June 12, 2012, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, arrive for the premiere of HBO's new documentary about his life in Kennebunkport, Maine.
In this photo from June 12, 2012, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, arrive for the premiere of HBO's new documentary about his life in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Former President George H.W. Bush has been transferred out of the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital as his condition improves, a family spokesman says.

Bush, 88, was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on November 23 with a bronchitis-like cough but his health worsened with a persistent fever. Doctors placed him in the ICU December 23 and gave him a liquid diet to rebuild his strength. 

[READ: George H.W. Bush in Intensive Care]

Over the weekend, Bush was moved to a regular private room in the hospital and a family spokeman announced that his condition was finally improving. "The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes," said the spokesman, Jim McGrath.

Bush also enjoyed a special moment to lift his spirits when the Oak Ridge Boys, the country singers, phoned him in the hospital and sang "Elvira" and "Amazing Grace." Former first lady Barbara Bush arranged the serenade. The Oak Ridge Boys have been friends of the Bushes for many years.

[BROWSE: 7 Memorable Presidential Debate Moments]

Bush served one term as president from 1989-1993. In addition to his recent respiratory problems, Bush suffers from a form of Parkinson's disease that has damaged his legs and requires him to use a wheelchair.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He has written five books, most recently Family of Freedom: Presidents and African Americans in the White House. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.