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  First Lady Visits Children's National Medical Center
December 13, 2010

Washington, DC — First Lady Michelle Obama visited patients and staff at Children’s National Medical Center today, an annual tradition dating back to First Lady Bess Truman. Mrs. Obama was accompanied by the family dog Bo.

Mrs. Obama toured the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where she met patients and families, as well as doctors, nurses and other support staff. While on the tour, Mrs. Obama met with members of the Division of Psychiatry, including patients, doctors, and nurses.

Following her tour, Mrs. Obama arrived in the Atrium, where she was greeted by many patients, families, board members, and staff. In the Atrium, Mrs. Obama read the classic The Night Before Christmas. Once she finished, children asked the First Lady questions about her holiday traditions. Vocalists 97 Acts, DJ Natty Boom and dancers from Studio Boomboxx provided musical entertainment.

Throughout her visit, Mrs. Obama was escorted by two long-time patients, Gabriel Gomez, 7, and Cheyenne Florio, 4. Gabriel receives treatment for sickle cell disease and asthma, while Cheyenne, who was born prematurely, has cerebral palsy and other special needs.

“It’s been a longstanding tradition for First Ladies to visit the nation’s children’s hospital and we’re pleased that Mrs. Obama has continued to bring joy to our patients and staff,” said Jacqueline D. Bowens, Executive Vice President and Chief Government and External Affairs Officer at Children’s National.

The Senior Vice President for Hospital-Based Specialties, David Wessel, MD, greeted the First Lady in the PICU. He noted: “In our critical care units, we care for some of the sickest children, so it was a real treat to have such a special visitor, especially during the holidays. We appreciate Mrs. Obama taking time out of her schedule to meet with our patients, families, and staff.”

Children’s National Medical Center is located less than 4 miles from the White House and is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington Metropolitan area. The PICU is a 32-bed unit, four of which are for neurology, and received the prestigious Beacon Award for excellence in critical care. It serves as a regional referral center and is a designated Level I Trauma Center for comprehensive care to pediatric patients and their families. Children’s National also serves a regional referral center for extracorporeal life support (ECMO).

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Contact: Emily Dammeyer or Paula Darte: 202-476-4500

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Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, has been serving the nation’s children since 1870. Home to Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals by U.S.News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. With 303 beds, more than 1,330 nurses, 550 physicians, and seven regional outpatient centers, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington metropolitan area. Children’s National has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet® designated hospital, the highest level of recognition for nursing excellence that a medical center can achieve. For more information, visit ChildrensNational.org, receive the latest news from the Children’s National press room, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.