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Children's National Health System Welcomes First Lady Michelle Obama

Mrs. Obama spreads holiday cheer to children in the Surgical Care Unit December 15, 2014
First Lady Michelle Obama in 2014 displays book to her young listeners

Washington, DC—First Lady Michelle Obama visited patients, families, and staff today at Children’s National Health System. The First Lady was accompanied by family dogs, Bo and Sunny. Mrs. Obama toured the Surgical Care Unit, where she visited with patients and families, as well as doctors, nurses, and other Children’s National staff. She also visited with the infectious disease team that has been trained to treat Ebola patients. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Children’s National among 35 other hospitals, and one of five pediatric hospitals nationwide, as an Ebola treatment center.

Following her tour, Mrs. Obama arrived in the hospital’s atrium, where she was greeted by many more patients, families, board members, and staff. In keeping with holiday tradition, Mrs. Obama read the classic ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.' Once she finished, children asked the First Lady questions about her favorite holiday and winter traditions. Instructors and students from Just Rock Enterprises, Only Make Believe Theatre, and Reggie Rice, the “Super Magic Man,” led patients and families in interactive holiday songs and games in the atrium. During her visit, Mrs. Obama was escorted by two patients, Kyra DeStefano, 10, and Aaron Irby, 9.  

“We’re always so honored and excited to have the First Lady visit and spread holiday cheer to our children,” said Kurt D. Newman, MD, CEO and President of Children’s National. “As a fellow advocate for children’s health, we appreciate Mrs. Obama taking the time to bring joy to our patients, families, and staff.” 

“It’s such a great holiday surprise to have Mrs. Obama come and visit with patients, their families, and the staff in the Surgical Care Unit. It really means a lot to the children and families who aren’t able to celebrate at home for the holidays,” said Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer for Hospital and Specialty Services, David Wessel, MD.

The tradition of First Lady visits to Children’s National dates back more than 60 years to First Lady Bess Truman. Children’s National Health System is located less than four miles from the White House and is ranked one of the nation’s top pediatric health providers. 

The surgical care unit is a 31-bed acute care unit that specializes in caring for children, across the continuum, with specialized surgical needs.  Specialties include, but are not limited to, general pediatric surgery, pediatric trauma/non-accidental trauma requiring surgical interventions, urology, orthopaedics, burns, plastic surgery and maxillofacial surgery. Children’s National is also one of the top recipients of NIH funding for pediatric research and is active in advancing research and clinical care that promotes the health and well-being of all children and finds solutions for the most complex medical challenges. 

Contact: Emily Hartman or Caitlyn Camacho at 202-476-4500.

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About Children's National Health System

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is one of the nation’s Top 5 pediatric hospitals and, for a second straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded pediatric institution in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. 

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