Campaign trail: First Lady, Drug Czar stop at Safe Station as part of National Recovery Month tour

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First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. drug czar Jim Carroll visited Manchester’s Safe Station on Sept. 17, 2020. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – First Lady Melania Trump made a special trip to New Hampshire to commend the work being done here to help those struggling with addiction as part of her travels as a campaign surrogate for her husband, President Donald Trump.

And although the primary focus of her visit – second to visibility just weeks before the general election in a battleground state – was to spend time at Concord Hospital to learn more about their work with babies born into addiction through their mothers, Melania Trump also made a surprise stop in Manchester.

The First Lady was traveling with federal drug czar, Jim Carroll, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Trump and Carroll took time to thank members of Manchester Fire Department for the many lives saved from overdose due to their work as first responders and Safe Station. President Trump famously used Safe Station as a backdrop in 2018 to announce his national opioid policy.   

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said the visit was “very impromptu” and he had almost no time to prepare.

“I was out checking a homeless encampment complaint when I got a call from my assistant chief that Mrs. Trump wanted to stop by the station to check on the Safe Station program,” Goonan said Friday. “She asked me about how we were coping with the drug crisis with the pandemic. For the most part she was there to thank Manchester Fire Department for their work during the pandemic,” Goonan said.

“She was very pleasant and very sincere. I’ve met her several times and find her very well informed on the drug crisis and caring about people suffering from substance use and mental health problems,” Goonan said. “We were honored she stopped by the station.”

Before the Manchester stop, Trump and Carroll discussed a persistent issue of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) which according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is affected more than 32,000 infants born in 2014, babies born who immediately suffer with drug withdrawal symptoms.

 Concord Hospital offers specialized care to children born with NAS.

First Lady Melania Trump visited the NAS unit at Concord Hospital on Sept. 17. 2020. Courtesy Photo

“Each year, tens of thousands of babies are born suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome in the United States,” The First Lady said. “Every fifteen minutes, another child is born with NAS.”

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, “a time to celebrate those who have embraced society and the positive impact of a drug-free life,” the First Lady stated in her remarks. She reiterated the commitment of the Trump Administration and her Be Best campaign to combating addiction. The roundtable event brought attention to how substance-exposed infants and their mothers receive care. “I would like to highlight the people and programs that encourage and support the road to recovery for mothers and their innocent newborns,” Melania Trump said during her visit.

The roundtable event also featured a volunteer “cuddlers,” local individuals who devote their time to helping hold and comfort the babies at Concord Hospital struggling with NAS while their mothers receive treatment for substance use disorder. The First Lady praised the staff members and volunteers saying, “They give these innocent babies and their families the gift of hope and love.”

The First Lady’s visit to the Granite State with Director Carroll was part of her Be Best initiative, which addresses “well-being, online safety, and opioid abuse.” She gave the hospital’s nursery 20 Be Best baby blankets to be used to comfort their infant patients.

About Carol Robidoux 6614 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!