My Turn: First lady’s visit a bad look for Concord Hospital

For the Monitor
Published: 9/27/2020 6:00:05 AM

This past week, first lady Melania Trump visited Concord Hospital to discuss the hospital’s programs surrounding evidence-based, non-pharmacologic treatments for newborns who are born to mothers with SUD, and more specifically opioid use. Concord Hospital has been recognized as a regional leader in the management of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and the theme coincides with one element of the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign, namely the reduction of opioid use in this country.

As authentic as the visit appeared on the surface, minimal scrutiny should give rise to concerns around the event. First, according to the first lady’s staff “the visit was considered to be official White House business, and not at all associated with the campaign.” This is a questionable assertion, given that the meeting occurred six weeks before the election in a contested state.

We are also left to question the status of the three pillars of the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign. To date, there has been little follow up on the her efforts to reduce the impact of the drug crisis on children. The other pillars encompass cyberbullying and the mental health of children. Again, there is scant evidence of any improvements brought about by her initiatives. Not only is President Trump the world’s most pre-eminent cyberbully, he even took to Twitter to bully and denigrate the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. The president has vigorously pursued separation of parents and children at the border and has been relentless in his efforts to overturn the ACA without a replacement, potentially leaving millions of Americans, notably children and those with SUD, struggling for their survival.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, the first lady has been fully complicit with the president’s deplorable policies. To invite her to our hospital to so clearly misrepresent the administration’s priorities is to normalize the sort of behavior that is so critically harmful to our children, our future, and our democracy.

Concord Hospital was wrong to invite Melania Trump and to thereby enable her husband’s destructive agenda.

(Dr. Robert S. Kiefner lives in Concord.)


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