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COUNTYWIDE : Supervisor Released From Intensive Care

Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, who underwent open-heart surgery on New Year’s Eve, was released from intensive care Wednesday and said in an interview that he expects to be home next week and back at work soon after that.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Riley’s surgeon is also pleased with the supervisor’s progress in recovering from the quadruple bypass operation. She declined to speculate on exactly when Riley, 78, would be ready to go home, but aides and the supervisor himself said they expected him to leave Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach sometime next week.

“I sure think it’s going to be soon, probably next week,” Riley said.

Speaking by telephone from his hospital bed Wednesday afternoon, Riley said he had already taken a few short walks and was resting comfortably despite some minor, lingering discomfort.

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“Things are going pretty well,” said Riley, his voice slightly hoarse but strong. “I think the treatment’s been great. When they pull all these things out of you, it takes a little time to get going again, but I think I’ll be out of here next week and back at work real soon.”

Some discomfort is common after open-heart surgery, and doctors said Riley would remain on pain medication until it subsides. After that, he will be put on an exercise regimen consisting mainly of walking and will continue to take aspirin as part of his treatment.

Barring complications, which are not expected, Riley should be able to resume a full work schedule within a few months, doctors said.

“Everything seems to be going very well,” said Christie McDaniel, an executive assistant to the supervisor who has been in touch with him regularly since he entered the hospital. “He’s doing wonderfully.”

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Linda O’Neill, program manager for cardiac services at the hospital, said she spoke with Riley’s surgeon, Dr. Aidan Raney, who also was encouraged by the supervisor’s progress.

Riley entered Hoag Hospital over the weekend and was operated on Monday for a quadruple bypass, in which partially blocked arteries around Riley’s heart were bypassed using pieces of blood vessels removed from his thigh. Although the operation is serious, thousands are performed annually with a very high rate of success.

In addition to the blockage of the arteries around his heart, Riley also suffers from diabetes and asthma. O’Neill said that asthma is a “consideration” in recovering from a heart operation because it affects the cardiovascular system, but she added that doctors would take that condition into account in designing Riley’s recovery program.

McDaniel said the supervisor is looking forward to returning to work in time for the Jan. 14 board session, when he is scheduled to be sworn in for his fifth term in office. Riley has served on the board since 1974 and is its senior member.

The supervisor on Wednesday emphasized his plans to attend that ceremony and added that he intends to serve out his coming term.

“I’m going to rest up a little longer, and then I plan to be back over there and at work,” Riley said. “I’m looking forward to it.”


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