AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci was hospitalized Friday and Saturday after reinjuring one of his three broken ribs, ribs he broke 11 days ago after slipping on ice. The mishap kept the governor from going to Washington, D.C. as planned.

Baldacci was released from MaineGeneral Medical Center at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday after being kept overnight for observation, said his spokesman Lynn Kippax.

The latest injury happened at 8:30 p.m. Friday as Baldacci was in the Blaine House with his son, Jack, watching television. “The governor turned his torso and heard a pop,” Kippax said. “It was one of those freak things.”

Baldacci decided he needed to come to the hospital to get an X-ray. Turning the wrong way caused what healing had happened in the broken rib to break, Kippax said.

Before the doctor discharged Baldacci, the governor had to promise to get more rest, Kippax said. “He made a deal with his doctor. He agreed to work from the Blaine House all this week,” and call off scheduled appointments. Any kind of exercise or movement, whether it’s lifting anything, getting out of a chair or opening a door, can threaten a broken rib. The governor needs to stay as quiet as possible, Kippax said.

That sounded good to Maine Bureau of Health Director Dr. Dora Mills, who said Saturday night that reinjuring broken ribs is common. “Normally for any break, you cast the bone to immobilize it, allowing it to heal. But with ribs you can’t cast,” because the ribs have to have some movement to allow breathing, Mills explained.

“Hard laughing, hard coughing or twisting can cause the fracture to move.” Baldacci didn’t likely re-break the rib, but what healing had happened broke when he twisted, she said. “The healing has to start all over. He needs to be very careful,” Mills said.

Anyone with broken ribs needs to “avoid twisting and turning, comedy clubs and colds,” she added. The governor came down with a cold last week, which didn’t help, Kippax said.

Baldacci broke his ribs Feb. 16 as he walked down the steps at the Blaine House to pick up the morning newspapers. The injury came one year after the governor suffered a concussion, one broken rib and bruises when his sports utility vehicle driven by a state police officer rolled after hitting an icy patch on Interstate 295 in Bowdoinham.

Kippax spent Saturday with the governor at the hospital, and said the governor had to spend the night in the pediatric ward because beds weren’t available. “There he was in a wheelchair, waiting to be wheeled out, when he heard a baby cry. He could have complained, but instead he said, ‘the poor thing,'” Kippax said.

The injury meant Baldacci was unable to leave for Washington, D.C., on Saturday to attend the National Governor’s Association, something he was looking forward to. “He’s disappointed,” Kippax said.

Baldacci and other governors were scheduled to meet with President Bush and the first lady. Baldacci wanted to stress how federal budget cuts, combined with looming job reductions at Bath Iron Works, would hurt Maine.

Administration officials representing Baldacci in Washington today and Monday are Education Commissioner Sue Gendron, Trish Riley who heads the Governor’s Office on Health Care and Finance, and senior adviser Kurt Adams.

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