Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was admitted into the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday “for supportive care and close monitoring,” officials said Sunday night.
He was originally taken to Walter Reed “for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in an earlier statement. Shortly after arriving, officials added, Austin transferred his duties to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks at roughly 5 p.m.
Austin was still at the hospital and receiving treatment on Sunday evening, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary said. Austin's doctors–Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut–confirmed that Austin had been transferred to critical care “after a series of tests and evaluations.”
“At this time, it is not clear how long Secretary Austin will remain hospitalized,” the Defense Department wrote in a statement, adding his current bladder issue “is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery.”
The hospitalization comes just over a month after Austin’s last hospital stay, for complications from prostate cancer surgery that he kept hidden from the White House.
His cancer prognosis remains “excellent,” doctors said Sunday, and updates on his condition will be provided as soon as possible.
“The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified,” Ryder said in an earlier statement. “Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred.”
Ryder reiterated in the later statement that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress had all been notified that Hicks had taken over Austin’s role until further notice.
The defense secretary apologized earlier this month for concealing not just his hospitalization, which was to treat a urinary tract infection and intestinal complications that arose after the Dec. 22 surgery, but also his diagnosis.
“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis, and should also have told my team and the American public,” Austin said at a Feb. 1 press conference. “I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”
The White House was not informed of the matter until Jan. 4. It was disclosed to the public a day later.
More details on Austin’s condition and hospitalization were not immediately available, with Ryder promising that further information would be shared “as soon as possible.”