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Reagan Home After Surgery

Faith Hill was among the performers during the 39th Annual Country Music Association Awards, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005, in New York.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Former President Reagan returned home Saturday, a week after hip surgery and will continue physical therapy sessions in the comforts of his Bel-Air home, his chief of staff said.

Reagan, 89, was released from Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica at about 2:30 p.m. and was taken for the 10-minute trip home by private ambulance with wife Nancy Reagan at his side, Joanne Drake said Saturday.

"All of his doctors agreed this morning that his condition had improved to the point where he would be more comfortable at home, so preparations were quickly made to transport him there," Drake said.

"They were very adamant that there was no reason to keep him here," she said.

Reagan, who has Alzheimer's disease, fell Jan. 12 and broke his right hip. The following day, surgeons inserted a pin, plate and screws to repair the hip during a 65-minute surgery.

Mrs. Reagan has been coordinating with doctors and nurses on home care needs and a physical therapy schedule, Drake said.

Doctors gave approval for his release after the nation's 40th chief executive and Mrs. Reagan watched the inauguration of President Bush on a hospital room television.

"They watched the inaugural this morning and they watched it with fascination," Drake said. Mrs. Reagan had traveled to the Republican National Convention last summer and urged voters to "win another one for the Gipper."

"She is just thrilled about President Bush," Drake said.

Reagan rebounded quickly after surgery, his doctors said all week. He sat up in a chair 24 hours after the operation and had a hearty appetite, dining on his favorite meatloaf and ice cream during his eight days in the hospital.

On Friday, Dr. Kevin Ehrhart said Reagan had been tolerating increased physical therapy sessions, but that he will not be participating in any weight-bearing sessions for at least two weeks.

Before departure, Reagan and his wife took a moment to thank doctors and nurses who cared for the former president.

More than 10,000 e-mail messages and cards were sent to the Reagans by well-wishers.

It wasn't known if Reagan's eldest daughter, Maureen, had a chance to see her father before he left. Ms. Reagan, 60, has been hospitalized at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center since Dec. 11 for aggressive cancer treatments. She was diagnosed four years ago with melanoma and a golfball-sized cancerous tumor was discovered in her hip bone three months ago.