Fact Check

Michelle Obama's St. Jude Photo Op

Michelle Obama visits St. Jude's, disrupts treatments, alienates parents.

Published Sep 19, 2014


Claim:   First Lady Michelle Obama visited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, severely disrupting operations and preventing parents from seeing their sick children.


Example:   [Collected via email, September 2014]

RANT: I am LIVID!!!!!! I just got a phone call from a St Jude mom who's son is battling a brain tumor.... Tomorrow, this little boy has his MRI. The results come after... his Mom was told that she cannot bring her husband with her to get the MRI RESULTS!!! Why you ask?? Well, because the First Lady and her entourage will be in the hospital tomorrow for I assume a photo shoot and secret service has pretty much shut down to bare necessity our hospital.

Only one person allowed per patient, no social media in hospital, no photos in hospital, cars will be towed in garage, more than one person with patient will be turned away at the gate by secret service! PEOPLE this is a CHILDREN'S CANCER HOSPITAL!!!!!!! Now a mother may have to receive possible horrible MRI RESULTS ALONE WITHOUT THE CHILD'S FATHER! REALLY?!? SOMEONE needs to THINK about the children before their care is compromised for the sake of publicity!!!!! Okay, Obama supporters, you can delete me now!!!!! END RANT! Not really!


Origins:   On 17 September 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama visited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, to meet with sick children and their families. Shortly after the visit, however, friend-of-a-friend stories began to circulate on Facebook and elsewhere claiming that Mrs. Obama's presence had severely disrupted hospital operations, delayed necessary treatments, and kept children separated from parents due to Secret Service activity.

At least one parent of a St. Jude patient took to social media to complain about the visit's effects on her daughter's care, stating in a Facebook status update that:

gotta love this!! Farrah had an appointment to get a blood transfusion today at 1pm well at 8am we got a phone call telling us that the medicine/ER is going to be closed today so we have to reschedule her appointment to get a BLOOD TRANSFUSION because the 1st lady Michelle Obama along with secret service and the media are here touring the hospital. I couldn't believe this but they also don't want us posting on our Social Network sites about what's gong on. They did a complete renovation of the hospital for her

arrival (I wonder who paid for all off the new furniture, extra security, landscaping, and fancy food items they had in the cafe today).

I was really upset that they made us reschedule her blood transfusion but what's really heartbreaking is that they had an art show/opening today to display the work of several of the amazing patients here (some traveled for hours to be here for the art show and won't be able to make it again because of health problems). I heard there were even patients crying about this. Oh an on top of all this we can't get or send any mail in or out of here today and can't go to our bank on campus.

We were even told that if Farrah were able to come in today that only one of us would be able to go with her. I know of several patients who are here for testing today that could literally mean life or death and they can't have both parents with them . Sorry for the rant but it just make no sense that all of this chaos is going on putting us families through this so that the media can come out to get the 1st lady on camera touring St. Judes. ok i'm done rant over. I wonder if i'll be in trouble for posting this (since they told us not to).


What is certain is that Mrs. Obama visited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on 17 September 2014, and the visit did indeed create the usual security issues required to ensure the safety of patients and the First Lady. A post to the hospital's Facebook page shows Mrs. Obama during her visit, meeting with patients and staff at St. Jude:

According to a local news source, however, St. Jude spokespeople said that the First Lady did not simply decide on her own to show up at the hospital for a "photo shoot" — they had specifically invited her to visit. In addition, parents of patients received letters in advance advising them of Mrs. Obama's impending visit and the temporary one-parent restriction that would be in effect for the duration of her appearance, and the hospital offered to make exceptions to the security protocol when necessary.

Last updated:   19 September 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.