Former President Ford in Mayo Clinic for ‘testing’

Former President Ford has checked into the Mayo Clinic for a few days as he undergoes unspecified “testing and evaluation.”

Ford’s office released a statement saying the 93-year-old former chief executive was admitted Tuesday, but disclosed little else about the reason for his hospital stay.

The clinic in Rochester, about 75 miles southeast of Minneapolis, offered no additional details.

“No further releases or updates are anticipated prior to early next week,” according to the statement issued from Ford’s office in Beaver Creek, Colo. Ford also has a home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Mayo Clinic spokesman John Murphy said he had no further information. A message seeking comment from Ford’s chief of staff, Penny Circle, was not returned.

Lee Simmons, a California friend of the former president, said he heard in the last two days that Ford was planning to undergo a series of tests for various “medical problems.” He didn’t have details but said he believed the tests had been planned in advance.

“He does have some medical problems,” Simmons, of Palm Desert, said in a telephone interview. “I did hear that they want to do a series of tests to make sure he’s OK and improve his quality of life.”

Simmons said he visited Ford last week at the former president’s vacation home in Beaver Creek. “I just saw him and he was doing fine. He’s talking, his mind is sharp,” Simmons said.

Ford spent a few days in Colorado’s Vail Valley Medical Center last month because of shortness of breath. In January, he was hospitalized for 12 days in Rancho Mirage for treatment of pneumonia.

Five years ago, Ford suffered two small strokes and spent about a week in a hospital.

Ford became the nation’s oldest living former president after the death of Ronald Reagan in 2004.

Ford was House minority leader when President Nixon chose him to replace the resigned Spiro Agnew as vice president in 1973. Ford became president on Aug. 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.


Associated Press writer John Antczak from Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press