updated 9/23/2004 7:26:52 PM ET 2004-09-23T23:26:52

Former Sen. Mark Hatfield is in intensive care after falling and hitting his head at his daughter’s home in Bethesda, Md., a family spokesman said Thursday.

The 82-year-old Hatfield fell Wednesday evening after attending the dedication of a government building named in his honor in Bethesda.

“He keeled over backwards and struck his head on the floor,” said Gerry Frank, a longtime friend who served as chief of staff to the former Republican senator.

Hatfield was taken by ambulance to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and later transferred to Washington Hospital Center, where he was being treated in the intensive care unit, Frank said.

Doctors weren’t sure what caused the fall, although they said it did not appear Hatfield had suffered a stroke or heart attack, Frank said.

“As far as we know it is not life-threatening. We are very hopeful there will be a full recovery,” he said.

Hatfield was expected to remain hospitalized “for at least the next few days,” he added.

A nurse at the hospital said the family had asked that information about Hatfield’s condition be kept private.

Hatfield has had problems with his hearing in recent years, but otherwise has been in reasonably good health, Frank said.

Hatfield, a former Oregon governor, served 30 years in the Senate after he was first elected in 1966. The building he helped dedicate houses offices of the National Institutes of Health.

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