First Lady Melania Trump visited the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville Tuesday as part of her “Be Best” campaign. The focus of her visit was to learn more about the facility’s program for children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). After being greeted at the hospital by Chief Executive Officer and President of Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. Jeff Balser, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Wright Pinson, and the Chief of Staff for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Dr. Margaret Rush, the first lady participated in a roundtable discussion about options for addressing the challenges faced by the children and their families according to a report from National Public Radio. The topic is related to one of the pillars of Mrs. Trump’s “Be Best” campaign, opioid abuse. Among the challenges discussed was the difficulty addicted mothers have in acquiring insurance both before and after giving birth.
The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters that during the roundtable, Mrs. Trump also asked how she could best use her role to help mothers. Grisham also said that FLOTUS believes it’s important to talk about the struggles of families impacted by NAS in order to ease the stigma and associated “shame and guilt.” The Tennessean reports that Grisham expressed Mrs. Trump’s admiration for the things the children’s hospital is doing for the families of children born with an opioid addiction, saying she was “impressed by their goal here of keeping mothers and children together.” She added that the first lady had inquired during the roundtable what support is provided by the hospital once the mothers leave the hospital, how long that support continues, and whether it includes the father.
#BeBest will continue to bring attention to NAS. A very big thank you to @VUMCchildren & staff for an informative & moving visit. It is a joy spending time w/ such courageous kids & to witness the strength of families who must deal with these tough situations. pic.twitter.com/WuZtjee1EQ
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) July 25, 2018
The first lady also spent time with pediatric patients who were hospitalized with other conditions. She spent some time on the floor playing with trains and blowing bubbles with the children.
Mrs. Trump took time to meet privately with parents of the patients as well and presented gifts of pink, blue, and white fleece blankets with the White House seal on them.
John Ingram is a prominent donor to Vanderbilt University and serves on their board of trust. He expressed the significance of the first lady’s visit.
“It’s (great) any time a First Lady comes to Vanderbilt, and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is such an amazing, important asset to our community. To have somebody high-profile like that come and put it in the spotlight, it’s only good. We live in such a partisan world, but it’s nice to have a First Lady come to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and highlight something that’s really a wonderful asset.”
Stephanie Grisham said that more “Be Best” events are planned for coming months and that there will be a major announcement made in the fall.