Melania Trump Visits Infant Drug Treatment Center

By Kelly Burch 10/13/17

The First Lady said that she has a passion for helping children and increasing awareness about the danger of opioids. 

First Lady Melania Trump

First Lady Melania Trump visited a treatment center that provides care for infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Mrs. Trump said she hoped her visit to Lily’s Place, a care center in West Virginia, would help raise awareness about the opioid epidemic and its effects on young families. 

“We need to open the conversation and teach children and young mothers that it’s dangerous to use drugs,” she said, according to The New York Times

According to CNN, the First Lady said she has a passion for helping children and increasing awareness about the danger of opioids. "I want to be here to support you and give a voice to Lily's Place and also for the opioid epidemic,” she said. 

Trump’s visit lasted for about an hour. The center—which has treated 190 drug-dependent babies since it opened in 2014—also provides counseling for families in an attempt to break the cycle of addiction. 

“Please tell me how I can help,” she said during a meeting with employees and former clients. “That’s why I’m here. I want to listen to your stories; I want to hear what I can do to help.”

Rebecca Crowder, the clinic’s executive director, did not shy away from what the clinic needs most. “We still battle with funding, obviously,” Crowder told Trump. “We haven’t gotten to that point where they recognize us through Medicaid.”

While the center still struggles to get recognized by Medicaid, President Trump continues to try and undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with its expanded Medicaid coverage. Experts believe that if the ACA is dismantled, people battling addiction will suffer. 

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway and Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, SAMHSA's Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use joined the First Lady on the trip. 

West Virginia Representative Evan Jenkins, a Republican, helped found Lily’s Place and is currently campaigning against the former governor of West Virginia to keep his seat in the House. Jenkins said he had discussed Lily’s Place and their mission to help drug-affected babies with President Trump and White House officials many times. Jenkins also introduced legislation earlier this year that would help get this type of treatment covered by Medicaid. 

Jenkins said the First Lady’s visit would increase awareness about babies affected by opioid addiction. “Having her voice behind it will be very, very important,” he said.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.