First Lady Melania Trump participated in her all time favorite holiday tradition on Tuesday, reading a Christmas book and playing games with young sick patients during her visit to the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
“Every year I cherish my visit to @ChildrensNatl to read a holiday story to the children & meet with the dedicated & inspiring healthcare professionals,” Melania tweeted Tuesday, sharing photos of visiting the hospital during the holiday season from previous years. “This will be my 4th holiday visit there & I look forward to spending time again with so many brave children & their families.”
Every year I cherish my visit to @ChildrensNatl to read a holiday story to the children & meet with the dedicated & inspiring healthcare professionals. This will be my 4th holiday visit there & I look forward to spending time again with so many brave children & their families. pic.twitter.com/oHWRAW368d— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) December 15, 2020
The hospital tweaked the holiday program to safely accommodate the First Lady’s visit during the pandemic.
However, despite bringing cheer to the young patients and focused on the visit, the mainstream media instead sought to attack the First Lady for not wearing a mask during her reading. Melania battled COVID-19 back in October, and health experts believe that those who have had the virus have the antibodies to prevent the spread.
“Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event was limited in numbers of in-person participants and all guests were required to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing. The visit followed the hospital’s mask protocols for public speakers, based on the District of Columbia health guidance, that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker. Throughout the holiday program, the First Lady was more than twelve feet away from others in the four-story atrium. Today’s visit, broadcast to 325 inpatient hospital rooms, followed these guidelines,” a White House readout of the First Lady visit issued Tuesday evening.
“With so many holiday events disrupted this year, it is particularly special that the First Lady and her team made this annual holiday visit a priority. Mrs. Trump has our deep gratitude for joining every first lady since Bess Truman in bringing holiday cheer to children who are hospitalized and can’t be home during this special time of the year,” Dr. Kurt Newman, chief executive officer of the hospital said introducing Melania.
Melania gave brief remarks before reading “Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey” by Todd Zimmerman. The tale is part of the holiday “Oliver the Ornament” series of books, which Melania said she started reading three years ago. The author said he was glad Melania’s visit would help take the children’s minds “off of what they’re going through, if only for an hour.”
“It is wonderful to be here. This is one of my favorite events during the holiday time and I’m very excited and looking forward to reading a book,” Melania said as she sat in front of a towering Christmas tree adorning the hospital’s atrium. “I’m thinking of you all. Stay strong and well and Merry Christmas and happy holidays.”
The two young patients who were present for the reading were 6-years old Riley Whitney and 8-years old Sofia Martinez who also walked in with Melania to the hospital’s main atrium. Both children were seated on the floor over 12-feet away in front of Melania, while the other 325 hospitalized children and their families watched the live-stream of the first lady reading the Christmas book from the safety of their rooms.
She exited to Mariah Carey’s classic famous holiday song, “All I Want for Christmas is You” and headed to Children’s National Seacrest Studios and participated in two rounds of holiday-themed bingo with the children. She stood at a podium in a studio calling out numbers to a microphone.
The game is played twice a week — Tuesday and Thursday to give the children a mental break from their medical conditions. According to the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit at the Children’s Hospital, during the hour “allows the patient to feel a sense of autonomy and control in how they spend their time during their hospital stay since typically, the patients’ schedules are determined for them either by the care team or parent/guardian.”
The hospital marked 150 years of pediatric care and research this month. Volunteers opened the hospital in 1870 with 12 beds for children displaced after the Civil War. It is ranked No. 1 for newborn care for the fourth straight year and ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report.