First Lady Melania Trump Visits Opioid Addicted Infants in Hard Hit West Virginia Community

Melania Trump Opioid Treatment Carolyn KasterAP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

First lady Melania Trump traveled to Huntington, West Virginia, on Tuesday to visit a drug treatment center specializing in helping infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome after exposure to opioids while in their mother’s womb.

Trump visited Lily’s Place, a non-profit drug treatment center where these babies are being treated.

“The statistic that 40 percent of babies born addicted to drugs are put into foster care is one that Mrs. Trump would like to see lowered, and Lily’s Place was created with that in mind,” Stephanie Grisham, spokesperson for the first lady, said in an interview with CNN.

Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a statistic described as a “dramatic increase,” the Associated Press reported.

Trump was greeted on arrival by West Virginia state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who released a statement about her visit.

“It’s truly an honor to welcome the first lady to our beautiful state, although we recognize the reason for her stay is a somber one,” Morrisey said. “I know her tour of Lilly’s Place, a facility that works with drug-addicted mothers and their infants, will be an eye-opener and shed light on the devastation the opioid crisis brings to families and communities in West Virginia and across the nation.”

“The opioid epidemic has reached a critical level and the first lady recognizes that it will take a concerted effort at all levels of government to win this fight,” Morrisey said. “I support her and all others who work to eradicate the scourge of addiction.”

The town of Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 49,000 people, has been among the hardest hit by America’s opioid epidemic, PBS NewsHour reported. Twenty-six people there overdosed in the span of four hours last year:

In March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that created the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction, which is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The commission requested that the president declare a national state of emergency to help expedite the medical response to the public health crisis in Huntington.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams told the NewsHour that he wants to work with the Trump administration to solve the crisis.

“What’s important is for us to identify a willingness to work together, to make West Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Williams said.

Melania Trump met last month with first responders, families, and treatment advocates at the White House to hear from them about their experiences, the Washington Examiner reported.

“I’m here today to listen and learn from all of your stories and hope you will feel free to give me your thoughts and opinions on how best I can help,” Trump said at the event, making the opioid crisis one of the pillars of her efforts to help children and families during her tenure in the White House.