After 11 days in critical condition at Bristol Hospital, Mayor Art Ward is getting better.
Ward, 63, remains in the intensive care unit, but his condition was upgraded Wednesday afternoon to serious rather than critical.
The mayor “continues to make appropriate progress” and “is conscious, with stable vital signs,” according to a hospital press release approved by Ward’s family.
“The prayers are working,” said city Councilor Ken Cockayne, the city’s acting mayor.
Though Ward’s prognosis remains uncertain, the release is the first solid indication that he is recovering from choking on a piece of steak on December 4 at a tailgating party at the Italian Social Club.
Cockayne called the condition upgrade outstanding news.
“If anybody can pull through, it is Mayor Ward. He is a strong person, as anyone who has battled him knows,” Cockayne said.
“This is incredible news the week before Christmas,” Cockayne said. “I’m sure his family is ecstatic. The prayers are working.”
The hospital said that “a hypothermia protocol was completed successfully last week” that involved cooling the mayor’s “core body temperature to preserve body functions and organs after an acute medical event.”
Ward spent “several days under heavy sedation” for his own comfort, the press release said, but is now conscious.
There is no indication in the release when the mayor might be able to return to work or even if that remains a possibility.
Ward’s family requested that visitors “continue to be restricted to immediate family members,” the press release said.
The hospital said it would keep the media updated on Ward’s condition with information consistent with federal law and as directed by the mayor’s family.
Ward has served in the city’s top job since 2007. He was a city councilor for seven turns before winning the mayor’s seat.
Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has Ward on the short list as a potential veterans affairs commissioner. Ward, a former service officer for veterans, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts in the process.
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