- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

PHILADELPHIA — A spirited Gerald Ford was up walking and getting better yesterday as the former president recovered from a stroke faster than a famous hospital was recovering from a delay in diagnosing it.
Mr. Ford, 87, even promised to campaign for Texas Gov. George W. Bush who visited him at the hospital, and spoke to former President Bush for 10 minutes by phone.
"We're very pleased with his progress," said Dr. Carole Thomas, director of neurological intensive care and the stroke program at Hahnemann University Hospital.
Dr. Thomas upgraded the official description of Mr. Ford's condition from "serious" to "fair" after he walked 30 or 40 feet in a hospital corridor, but he remained in the intensive care unit for security reasons.
The 38th president had a 20-minute visit from the younger Mr. Bush, GOP nominee to be the 43rd president, who stopped by to sit with the former president, his wife Betty, daughter Susan and sons Jack and Steve.
Mr. Bush said Mr. Ford "looked great" and quoted him as saying, "Tell them that I'll be campaigning for you in a couple of weeks."
"It did my spirits good to see that he had good color and was alive and active and anxious to talk about the convention," Mr. Bush told reporters.
Doctors treated Mr. Ford's swollen tongue as a separate condition, suspected to be an infection but not ruling out a tumor.
The tongue pain, treated with a light anesthetic in mouthwash, was said to be unrelated to the stroke that was detected Wednesday after tongue pain and balance problems sent him to the hospital.
On Mr. Ford's first visit to the emergency room at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, a physician said he appeared to have an ear infection. The stroke, attributed to the usual hardening of the blood vessels, was detected by an MRI exam when a wobbly Mr. Ford went back to the hospital at 9 that morning.
"He was definitely much steadier than he was yesterday," Dr. Thomas said, referring to dizziness and loss of balance that led doctors to hospitalize him Wednesday morning.
Dr. Schwartzman and other hospital officials defended their decision to let Mr. Ford leave after the half hour visit early Wednesday morning.
"We do not believe there was any misdiagnosis there," said Michael Halter, the hospital's chief operating officer. He said the symptoms that Mr. Ford experienced when he woke up the next morning did not appear when he first visited the hospital.
On that visit, Mr. Ford reportedly declined a diagnostic scan recommended by doctors on the earlier visit and his spokesman said Mr. Ford limited the examination.
"He was treated appropriately and discharged as per his wishes," said Dr. Wayne Satz, head of Hahnemann's emergency room.
The medicine he is receiving to dissolve a clot and prevent others from forming in brain blood vessels and possibly triggering a third stroke was changed from heparin to Coumadin, which is given orally and not injected.
"His left hand has returned to normal. He's having some problem with his tongue and a little bit of slurred speech," said Dr. Robert Schwartzman, the hospital's chief of neurology.
* David Boyer also contributed to this report.

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