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Ford Released From Hospital

May 18, 2003|From Associated Press

Former President Ford was released Saturday from a Rancho Mirage hospital, where he spent the night after suffering a dizzy spell while playing golf in hot weather.

Ford, 89, was released from Eisenhower Medical Center, spokeswoman Mary Kay Plock announced about 6 p.m. Saturday.

She declined to say when he had been sent home or what his condition was.

Before his release, however, doctors said Ford was doing well physically.

"He's perfectly stable, he's responding to treatment and he has no complaints physically," Dr. Alan Kiselstein, the former president's doctor of 15 years, said at a news conference.

Ford had episodes of lightheadedness, associated with changes in his blood pressure, for several days before he was admitted to the hospital Friday, Kiselstein said.

"The particular causes of these episodes are multiple, complex and interactive," he said.

"None of them appear life-threatening. They are rather more related to the aging process."

The nation's 38th president had a particularly severe episode Friday while playing golf in 96-degree heat. He left the hospital, but the dizziness persisted and he returned.

"His primary question each time I treated him was, 'When can I go home?' " Kiselstein said.

He said doctors were "fine-tuning" several medications that Ford takes, and would monitor his condition in the meantime. Kiselstein declined to name the medications.

Ford's wife, Betty, was by his side.

"He was all smiles, openly talking about current events and feeling fine," said another physician, Dr. Andrew Rubin.

Ford suffered a mild stroke in August 2000 when he was in Philadelphia to attend the Republican National Convention.

Initially, officials at Eisenhower Medical Center released few details on Ford's condition.

Since April 14, hospitals have had to comply with revised patient privacy standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

The federal regulations allow a hospital to disclose the name, location and general condition of a patient under its care only in response to requests, including from the media, that identify the patient by name. A patient can request that the information not be disclosed, however.

Security was tight at the private hospital, which includes the Betty Ford Center alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinic and several other buildings.

Ford spokeswoman Penny Circle said the former president is an avid golfer and uses a cart.

He had not been out on a course since weather in the desert resort area where he lives began warming up earlier in the week, she said.

Ford is the nation's only president never elected to that office or the vice presidency. President Nixon chose him as vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who was forced from office by scandal.

A Michigan Republican, Ford took office as president minutes after Nixon resigned and flew off into exile following the Watergate crisis.

He declared "our long national nightmare is over," but revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he might have committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976.

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