AUGUSTA – February doesn’t seem to be a good month for Gov. John Baldacci.

Baldacci broke three ribs when he slipped on ice outside his home Wednesday morning, a year after breaking a rib in a car accident.

Baldacci was walking down the back steps at the governor’s mansion to pick up the morning newspapers when he fell, spokesman Lynn Kippax said.

He was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, where X-rays confirmed his injuries, Kippax said.

Baldacci, 50, later returned to the Blaine House, where maintenance workers were busy removing the ice. It formed overnight across much of the state after melting snow from last week’s storm froze.

Baldacci canceled his public schedule through Thursday and was consulting with aides, reviewing material brought over by his staff and resting, his office said.

“Staff took him stuff to work on,” Kippax said. He described the governor’s condition as “sore.”

Lee Umphrey, director of legislative and public relations for Baldacci, said the governor was on medication and received updates on several issues, including proposals for social service spending adjustments and Sunday hunting. He wasn’t taking any questions from the press.

“Meeting with him this morning was like any other time,” Umphrey said. “He was drinking coffee and telling me to do things.”

Dr. Dora Mills, who heads Maine’s Bureau of Health, said broken ribs can be very painful, especially when coughing, twisting, turning or laughing.

The level of pain depends on which ribs are broken and how they are broken, Mills said. If the bones are broken on an angle and jagged, they’d come back together easier, and that would be less painful than more blunt breaks. Either way, recovery typically ranges from two to three weeks to two to three months, the doctor said.

One risk of broken ribs is that the ribs will puncture the lung, Mills said. Anyone with broken ribs must take precautions and watch for warning signs that could indicate a punctured lung, such as shortness of breath and more pain when breathing.

Last February, Baldacci suffered a concussion, a broken rib and bruises when the sport utility vehicle he was riding in rolled into a ditch off an icy highway. The Democratic chief executive, who was elected to a four-year term in 2002 and is planning to seek re-election, returned to work the following morning, holding a budget meeting and using a telephone hookup to endorse Sen. John Kerry for his party’s presidential nomination.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s accident, Baldacci was expected to remain at the Blaine House for at least another day.

Umphrey, borrowing terminology from the world of sports, said: “He’s not on the DL (disabled list). He’s day to day.”

Mills recommended new footwear for the governor. “A good belated Valentine’s present to the governor would be grippers,” she said.


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