BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Melania Trump on Wednesday visited a Boston hospital’s cuddling program that aims to help infants born dependent on drugs or alcohol. Outside Boston Medical Center, dozens of protesters held signs like “stop terrorizing immigrant children” in a demonstration against the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
The first lady’s stop at BMC is part of her “Be Best” initiative.
“I hope today’s visit helps shine a light,” Trump said. “It is my hope that what we discuss today will encourage others to replicate similar programs within their own communities.”
The hospital developed the program to nurture babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The hospital also works with expectant mothers who misuse drugs or alcohol.
“It is so important to acknowledge and show gratitude for what you’re doing to help mothers who are struggling with addiction and babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome,” Trump said.
Proponents say cuddling helps lower stress in infants born to addicted women. It includes parental presence at the infant’s bedside, skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding.
After being briefed on the programs, Trump toured the hospital’s pediatric unit and met with children who have been successfully treated.
The protesters, many of them hospital employees, said they wanted to send a message that they stand with immigrant patients.
Dozens of protestors are holding signs on the campus of Boston Medical Center ahead of a visit by First Lady Melania Trump to a Hospital program helping babies exposed to opioids. #WBZ pic.twitter.com/DuFI13WbIi
— Louisa Moller (@LouisaMoller) November 6, 2019
“She’s Melania Trump. She’s married to Donald Trump,” protester Dr. Sara Stulac said. “He is such a symbol of so much of what we stand against, so much hatred and division.”
Earlier this week about 250 employees signed a letter calling the visit a betrayal of the hospital’s core values.
“We are not protesting her being here,” Dr. Eduardo Garza said. “We’re sort of more trying to give a message to our patients to say ‘hey we see you, we understand that you’re marginalized. . . and we stand with you.'”
Some counter protesters questioned the demonstration. “People are here to try to save kids,” said Joe Pina. “I don’t see what the protest is all about, especially seeing that there’s doctors in there, nurses in there.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)