Melania Trump drew a group of protestors during her visit to the Boston Medical Center on Wednesday, where she learned about the hospital’s treatment for babies recovering from drug exposure while in the womb.
“Be Best is dedicated to shining a light on programs similar to the ones I learned about today at Boston Medical Center,” the first lady, 49, said. “The programs implemented supply the necessary services and education to patients and families struggling with addiction. … I will continue to raise awareness about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and promote the incredibly important resources and programs that provide families with the care and help they need.”
She arrived at the facility on Wednesday morning as BMC employees and others gathered outside to protest President Donald Trump administration and its immigration policies, NBC10 Boston and The Boston Globe reported.
Protestors numbered as many as 200, according to NBC10 Boston. Some of them made signs including “Sick kids need doctors not deportation,” and at least one wore a coat that referenced the first lady’s notorious “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” jacket that she wore last year while visiting a detention center holding migrant children in McAllen, Texas.
The protestor had changed their jacket to read “We really do care do u?”
The protests were in part because the Boston Medical Center is considered a safety-net hospital and provides an Immigrant and Refugee Heath Program catered to provide primary care services to immigrants and refugees.
The hospital also offers medical affidavits in support of asylum applications, infectious disease screening, treatment for refugee or war trauma and evaluations for waivers for the U.S. citizenship exam if the patient suffers from a medical or cognitive disability.
“This is not a person that we want to come to our home, our hospital,” one BMC employee told NBC10 Boston.
Another employee, a BMC program director, told the Globe, “We are not here in opposition of First Lady Trump being here. But we are really here to stand in solidarity with our patients and to let them know that we hear you. We understand you. We are here for you.”
“I hope that [Mrs. Trump] can come here and learn about all of the wonderful work and the programs that are happening here,” the program director told the paper, “and that she can take that information back up to Capitol Hill with her and get this administration to think about policies and practices that are actually going to help people heal.”
Mrs. Trump previously addressed her decision to wear the “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” jacket at the height of controversy over the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border.
President Trump campaigned on restricting immigration, both legal and illegal, and has made it a signature policy while in the White House.
Mrs. Trump’s jacket — though taken by some as a gesture of indifference or even some kind of covert signal about her true feelings for her husband’s politics — was actually a message for the media, she has explained.
“I wore the jacket to go on the plane and off the plane,” she told ABC News in October 2018. “And it was for the people and for the left-wing media to show them that I don’t care. You will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”
She said her jacket was critiquing the headlines she received.
“I would prefer that they would focus on what I do and my initiatives, than what I wear,” she told ABC.
Mrs. Trump was visiting the hospital to learn more about their Cuddling Assists in Lowering Maternal and Infant Stress program, otherwise known as CALM. She also toured the pediatric unit and met with families there who are in recovery.
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Through CALM, medical professionals cuddle newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which is caused when a baby experiences withdrawal from certain drugs they were exposed to in the womb, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Supporters of this treatment say it helps lower stress for the infants.
“As you may know, this is an issue I am very focused on,” Mrs. Trump said Wednesday at BMC. “I hope today’s visit helps shine a light on programs like yours.”
She was joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, who said that the Trump administration was putting a special focus on the problem and was advancing clinical trials on neonatal opioid withdrawal.
Mrs. Trump’s “Be Best” campaign highlights efforts to improve child welfare, including anti-bullying and solutions to the opioid epidemic.