First lady visiting cuddle program for babies born on drugs

Protesters held signs outside Boston Medical Center during first lady Melania Trump's visit on Wednesday

Protesters held signs outside Boston Medical Center during first lady Melania Trump's visit on Wednesday

The First Lady is in town to learn about how BMC treats mothers and children affected by substance use disorder.

© JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images Protesters, hospital staff, doctors and nurses line the lawn of Boston Medical Center, where they protested the visit of first lady Melania Trump to the hospital.

In response to Trump's visit, about 250 BMC workers are participating in a "Stand-In for Solidarity" from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. Wednesday on the Moakley Green.

The opponents - family physicians, social workers, and administrative employees among them - assumed that a photo opportunity highlighting BMC's work with ailing little children could send the wrong message, primarily to immigrants anxious about the Trump administration's policy prerogatives, who would then prefer to abstain from turning to the said medical institution for help. One read, "We care do u?" a play on Trump's infamous "I Really Don't Care Do U?" jacket she wore while visiting migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border in summer 2018. "Our BMC does not privilege the demands of those in political power over the best interest of our patients".

Inside the hospital, Melania Trump, who was accompanied by Health and Human Services Alex Azar, told hospital staff that she was "very focused" on their work with babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a withdrawal condition newborns experience after being chronically exposed to opioids during the mother's pregnancy.

The first lady came to BMC - the city's largest safety net healthcare provider - as part of her "BE BEST" initiative aimed at promoting children's well-being.

If the first lady of the United States noticed the stir she caused, it didn't show. "We are doing important, impactful work".

In an e-mail sent Tuesday to BMC's 6,000 employees, Walsh said she hopes "the visit will be a unique opportunity to share our values of respect and inclusion with federal leaders whose policies have a significant impact on the vulnerable populations we are dedicated to serving".

The letter goes on to say that Walsh hopes employees "will stay focused on your individual job duties, as you do every day".

Representative Ayanna Pressley, a vocal critic of the Trump administration who represents the part of Boston where BMC is located, tweeted her support.

Eduardo Garza, a resident at BMC, said he understands it is not easy to refuse a visit from the first lady.

Protesters said they are anxious about the message Melania Trump's appearance sends to patients - especially those who are immigrants.

Fox News Flash top headlines for November 6 are here. A pool photographer observed the first lady talking with doctors in the unit's hallway, but other members of the press were not allowed to join her for the tour or see her interact with any of the mothers or infants in the unit.

David Kibbe, Boston Medical Center's director of communications, said neither the protest nor the First Lady's visit impacted hospital operations on Wednesday.

President and chief executive Kate Walsh, who met about 75 people to talk the matter over on Monday, argued in response that Melania Trump's visit will provide invaluable and well-deserved recognition for an innovative programme they are pursuing in their institution.