COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Tuesday was a big day for President Joe Biden and a big day for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Before speaking at The James, Biden toured the cancer center, where hospital leaders showed him some of the technology and developments they said are direct results of an Affordable Care Act grant.
“Fantastic and educational, for both sides,” said Dr. William Farrar, CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
Hospital and university leaders all said the president’s visit made for a special day. It’s the first time a sitting president has visited the hospitals, a Wexner Medical Center spokesperson said.
Ohio State University leaders joined Biden as he toured the hospital.
“It was truly an amazing experience from top to bottom,” said Dr. Arnab Chakravarti, chair and professor of radiation oncology at OSU.
Biden’s visit coincided with the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law. The James received a $100 million grant from the law.
Hospital leaders said the grant has greatly increased the size of the radiation oncology department and the technology it has.
“For the president to come and see the results of all that work and how it’s blossomed here over the past decade was an extraordinary privilege for all of us,” said Dr. Hal Paz, CEO of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
In total, Biden spent about two hours at The James.
“This is a momentous day,” said OSU President Dr. Kristina Johnson.
It was also a day filled with personal connections, personal for the president, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
“He was very open about that and spoke so passionately about the impact and to show him how that vision can translate into the kind of care that’s making a difference,” Paz said.
Personal for Johnson, too, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in college and is a cancer survivor.
“To see places that, 40 years ago, I was treated as a pediatric oncology cancer survivor, so it brought back a lot of positive memories,” she said. “Clearly, we’re making progress because I’m here today.”
It was personal for patients at The James as well.
“Very, very meaningful, not just for faculty and staff, but for our patient population as well,” Chakravarti said. “I heard from our patients who just were touched that he would go that extra mile.”
This isn’t the first time Biden has worked with The James – he was at The Pelotonia back in 2017.