Jimmy Carter photo

Children's Hospital National Medical Center - Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony

March 06, 1977

I think it's very significant to point out that several Presidents and several different Congresses, that many private contributors have been involved in the evolution of this tremendous new health care center. I'm proud of it.

It has been a subject of some criticism because of its cost. But I think we have to remember that this is the center of our government, and that what does occur here in 1977 and in the year 2000 can very well set a standard of care and love for children that will permeate the consciousness of doctors and nurses and parents, teachers and social workers throughout our country and, perhaps, even throughout the world.

I grew up in a home in a rural area of Georgia, but my mother was a registered nurse. And I and the other children in that country community had good health care, not just from her but because there was a heavy emphasis on the prevention of disease, on inoculations, and on a constant relationship with a large number of medical doctors who lived there then.

We've let those standards of prevention emphasis deteriorate over the last few decades. Recently, Joe Califano, who is the new head of the Health, Education, and Welfare Department, was talking about this. And we decided to increase the emphasis placed on the health care for children.

In the past, the Federal Government has paid 50 percent of the cost of identifying young children who need health care, and we had very slight response. So, we decided in this next budget to increase that to 75 percent, hoping that in this way, within the school environment, within the outpatient clinics, within the county health centers, that we could identify children who perhaps have not had the good fortune that many of your children and my child has had, and might have potential problems observed and corrected before they reach their formative years of life.

This tremendous new Children's Hospital is designed to do several things. One is to treat those children who have severe health problems, particularly cardiac patients at a young age, below 18 or so. Ninety percent of those kinds of patients in the whole metropolitan area are likely to be treated here. And one-third of all the children in the metropolitan area of Washington will be treated here.

A great deal of thought has gone into the design of this hospital to try to predict what the future might bold in energy conservation, health care, and in the use of brief periods of stay within a hospital environment for those who are quite ill.

Another new or innovative change that has been made in the design is that there is a special place in every instance for the parent of a child to stay here with that child while the severe illness has not been corrected. So, adjacent to each child's bed there is a place for the parent to stay.

This hospital, I believe, is associated with George Washington University and its medical center. And it's close enough so that Federal officials, as well, can both teach, try new ideas, and learn. We, I think, can receive rich benefits from this center. And I believe that we can set a standard for the whole country.

I know how much I love my own children. Just a few minutes ago, Amy and I were out in the front yard of the White House designing a tree house that's going to be built for Amy, and it is one of those many instances that I have to be close to her. And I know that when she does get ill in the future, I want her to have good health care.

But I'm just as interested in a child who lives in the oldest and most dilapidated apartment house in the District of Columbia. And I'm also interested in the children that live in Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, or who live in other parts of our country.

So, I'm here to represent the Government, which quite often makes mistakes, but which I hope always retains a heart, attuned to loving care for those who are able to care for themselves, yes, but for primarily those whose care would be neglected if those who do occupy major political positions in the Congress and in the White House didn't care for everyone.

This is a good day for us. And I hope that everyone who serves in this hospital or who comes here for treatment or whose family uses this facility will be blessed by it and will be inspired with a sense of compassion and understanding and brotherhood and love, to keep illness away from our children and to correct those who are afflicted with disease.

I want to congratulate those who have come before me who had the foresight to understand the need for this facility. And I think that every family who does live in that dilapidated apartment dwelling can breathe a little easier knowing that if their children are sick that poverty or despair will not prevent their child from getting just as good medical treatment as the little daughter of the President of the United States.

That's what's good about a system of government such as ours. We've got a long way to go in the field of health care, but this is a major step forward. And I'm very proud of what has been done and look forward with a great deal of determination to earn, as President, working with all of you, the medal that has been struck and presented to me and Rosalynn.

It will go in the White House museum or in the Archives. And I hope it will be a reminder in generations to come of the concern that many of you have had long before I was elected President at these tiny but precious emblems of concern in the greatest country on Earth--the children that we care so much about.

Thank you again. I'm proud to be part of this great ceremony.

Note: The President spoke at 3:05 p.m. in the center court of the new hospital. Prior to his remarks, the President and Mrs. Carter were presented with a gold medallion, struck in honor of the occasion by the governing board of the hospital. The President accepted the medal on behalf of the American people, who financed the Center through private donations and Federal grants and loans.

Jimmy Carter, Children's Hospital National Medical Center - Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242908

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives