Jesse Jackson Jr. health 'more serious' than thought

July 5, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The congressman's health issue is more serious than first thought. He is currently on a medical leave of absence from Congress.

Last week we heard that Congressman Jackson was suffering from exhaustion and was on medical leave. Thursday, there is word the diagnosis and treatment is more serious. The news comes with few details and leaves many questions unanswered.

The South Shore office Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. shares with his wife, Alderman Sandi Jackson, was closed Thursday.

The only thing coming out of the congressman's office was a statement, saying in part: "He is undergoing further evaluation and treatment at an in-patient medical facility. According to the preliminary diagnoses from his doctors, Congressman Jackson will need to receive extended in-patient treatment as well as continuing treatment thereafter."

"The mystery deepens, but the answers are not forthcoming," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington. "So it just creates even more problems, even more questions than answers."

Washington says, while there is generally sympathy for someone seeking medical help, the vagueness of the statement can be difficult for some of his constituents.

"I think voters are much more comfortable with more information rather than less information, "said Washington. "It raises questions about the 'Why?' Why are they being so quiet? Why are they being so secretive?"

Some in Jackson Jr.'s district are concerned about the news.

"The only concern I have was the fact that there's so many different projects he has going on in this neighborhood, and how will his absence affect those projects," said Anjanette Hondras.

"I just hope that everything will be better and he gets the help that he needs," said Vivian Hayes.

The medical release about Jackson comes after longtime friend Raghuveer Nayak was charged with fraud.

Jackson is running for a 10th term. Thursday night, other candidates in the race voiced concern about how this illness is being handled.

"Especially when you get to the level of a public servant - public officer - I think there's an obligation to be a bit more open about what the conditions are," said Brian Woodworth, Jackson's Republican opponent in the 2nd Congressional District race.

Woodworth also said he is keeping Jackson in his thoughts and hopes for a speedy recovery.

"We deserve the right to know where you are and we need an immediate report of your condition, because if you are incapacitated, it is time for you to step down," said Marcus Lewis, an independent candidate also running for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

The family has not so far wished to disclose details. Rev. Jesse Jackson has not commented beyond saying he talked to his son recently and that the congressman is simply exhausted and overwhelmed. Last week, Ald. Sandi Jackson would not discuss the situation, only expressing gratitude to those who have supported her family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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