Melania Trump visits hospital for NAS event

Melania Trump visits hospital for NAS event
Copyright 2018 CNN

First lady Melania Trump arrived to Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital — albeit about an hour behind schedule due to a mechanical issue on her plane — for an event focused on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The hospital has provided care to families and newborns with the syndrome, also call NAS, for more than 45 years. One of the components of the first lady’s “Be Best” initiative is helping children dealing with the opioid crisis.

“As the caretakers of the next generation, it is our responsibility to protect our most valuable and vulnerable, our children,” said Trump in her prepared remarks.

The first lady, who has spent part of the past year and a half learning about NAS, spoke for approximately four minutes, after being introduced by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“(NAS is) one of the most tragic consequences of the opioid epidemic,” said Azar, adding the problem is “heartbreakingly common” among mothers who are addicted to drugs and pass symptoms of opioid use and withdrawal onto their newborn babies.

Trump has visited several hospitals over the past year, making NAS an increasingly important focus of her platform.

In August, President Donald Trump joined his wife to tour Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and visit with NAS medical professionals. In July, the first lady made a similar visit to Vanderbilt University’s hospital in Tennessee. During that visit, Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the first lady spent roughly 30 minutes with a 22-year-old mother and 28-year-old father and their eight-day-old infant in a hospital room, where Trump held the baby, who was receiving treatment for NAS.

“They had a pretty emotional meeting,” Grisham told CNN at the time.

Melania Trump said Wednesday she will also tour the hospital’s neonatal care unit to visit with other families dealing with NAS.

“There are few things harder to bear than seeing a newborn suffer,” she said in her remarks. “I am anxious to do all that I can to help shine a light on this epidemic.”

The conference Trump is attending at the hospital is being held in part to unveil a new system being developed by the Department of Health and Human Services that will help track infants suffering from opiate withdrawal to monitor longer term effects.