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Obama's Missouri Hospital Visit


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) talks to Shelby Davis, 17, from Mineral Point, Mo., June 10, 2008, as he follows registered nurse Kate Marzluf, not shown, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. (Associated Press)

By Howard Kurtz
ST. LOUIS -- Dr. Barack was strutting his stuff as he made his morning rounds at Barnes Jewish Hospital here.

"See, I'm finally doing something," the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters as he wheeled a computer cart into a patient's room. "I'm rolling."

Obama was spending the morning with a cardiac-care nurse, the first of what his staff says will be a series of visits with working Americans. He peppered Kate Marzluf, 26, with questions about her routine, pored over patient charts and perfected a look of medical concern.

The senator stared intently at a monitor showing one patient's vital signs. "How come it's so messy?" he asked. "How old is she?"

Wired for sound and trailed by a press pool, Obama, in white shirtsleeves, watched as Marzluf sorted cups and needles into a plastic tray. "I know this is a stupid question," he said, "but how do you make sure you're not mixing stuff up?"

As the nurse talked about the morning's procedures, Obama said some of it "makes me faint just to think about it. You're not drawing any blood, are you?"

He also asked whether hospital food is as bad as it used to be. Marzluf gave him a no comment.

Obama visited four patients, carrying a breakfast tray to 17-year old Shelby Davis, and telling her mother that today is the 7th birthday of his daughter Sasha. He asked the patients how long they had been there and whether their insurance was covering their costs.

Obama's longest conversation was with Raymond Bisher, 52, a former Missouri police officer with congestive heart failure, a wife working two jobs and a son serving in Iraq. The candidate seemed amazed when Bisher said that his wife takes weekly shots that cost $1,500 apiece. "That's $6,000 a month. Wow," Obama said, assuring Bisher that he would make health care "a big priority."

Bisher, looking at his monitor, told the nurse that his blood pressure appeared high.

"When reporters are around me, my blood pressure goes up, too," Obama said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 10, 2008; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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