The new Children's Hospital National Medical Center was dedicated yesterday with President Carter asserting that the $58 million facility "can set a standard for the whole country."
The President, who attended the dedication ceremonies at the new hospital along with his wife, Rosalynn, his daughter, Amy, and his sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, said that he was proud of the silver-windowed, innovative structure on Michigan Avenue, NW.
Referring briefly to criticism of the new hospital's cost, Carter said, "I think we have to remember that this is the center of our government and 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 premeate the consciousness of doctors and nurses and parents, teachers and social workers throughout our system and perhaps even throughout the world."
Carter recalled that his mother is a registered nurse and said that he and others in his community grew up with good health care because of an emphasis on inoculations and preventive medicine. "We've let those standards of prevention . . . deteriorate over the last few decades," Carter said.
To combat that deterioration, he told the audience of about 750 persons seated in the hospital's atrium, he and Health, Education and Wefare Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. had added money to the fiscal 1978 federal budget to increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent the government's share in a program designed to identify children needing medical care.
Carter said that he knows that his own daughter will receive good medical care, but that he was "just as interested in the child who lives in the oldest, most dilapidated apartment house in the District of Columbia" or Atlanta, Detroit and other cities.
"I think that every family that 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 children from getting just as good medical care as the little daughter of the President of the United States," Carter said.
Following the dedication ceremonies, Carter paused on his way out to listen to the National Children's Choir. After listening to one number, he asked the choir if it could sing Amazing Grace." Theresa Tetrault, 15 of Adelphi, sang a solo, accompanied by the choir.
Carter then was taken on a tour of the hospital by John H. Sharon, president of Children's Hospital. During the dedication, Sharon had presented the President and Mrs. Carter with a gold medallion commemorating the dedication.
The Presidential entourage was taken through the hospital's intensivecare unit, which had a handful of beds set up in the still largely empty facility. The hospital is not scheduled to open for about another 90 days.
The tour also included a visit to the play therapy room, where Amy Carter bounded around on a yellow water bed, before the party moved to a larger play area, where Amy was captivated by a book corner stocked with children's favorites.