Georgina Melody: Prison nurse who refused CPR to inmate's unresponsive 12-day-old baby girl claims she was dead already
DEER PARK, VICTORIA: Georgina Melody, a New Zealand national, who worked as a prison nurse at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, allegedly refused to perform first aid on an inmate's unresponsive newborn in 2018. She has now been provided a certificate of indemnity by Victorian Coroner John Olle on Tuesday, September 20, after she objected to voluntarily fronting the inquest into the child's tragic death on the grounds she could face disciplinary or civil action, reports the Daily Mail.
This comes three years after Melody was accused of refusing to even touch the baby despite desperate pleas from the mother. Prison staff have also come under the scanner as they allegedly refused to help while one prisoner tried to resuscitate the child. Melody had been working the night shift at the prison facility for merely six months when the tragic incident occurred. 'Baby A', as the child must be legally referred, was only 12 days old at the time of her death.
Melody, who currently works as a registered nurse for Correct Care Australasia, arrived at the inquest armed with her indemnity certificate. While this does not indemnify her from perjury in the witness box, the nurse stated that her role in the prison facility was not to care for the babies of inmates unless an emergency called for it. Moreover, she had not received any formal training in regard to caring for infants.
The inquest also heard that a prison guard had to physically go and fetch Melody after she could not be reached on the radio at the medical unit. A 'code black' was called by the guards, as one inmate made frantic calls that Baby A was unresponsive. Despite the frenzied situation inside the jail's designated 'Mothers and Children Units', Melody claimed she was unaware of the panic, adding that she was on her way to help a newborn until she saw the lifeless body of Baby A being cradled by the mother.
"It wasn't immediately drawn to my attention who was the casualty," she told the inquest, elaborating that the atmosphere inside the unit was not one of an emergency. "When I walked in I didn't get a sense of emergency. I didn't hear any hysteria or panic," she said, claiming that no one was crying when she arrived, and neither did anyone ask her to perform first aid on the baby.
One inmate referred to as 'Alice' told the inquest last week that Melody refused to assist the newborn even after another inmate was forced to perform CPR. Alice, who was the first inmate to hear the mother's cry for help at 5.30 am, added, "The nurse just said 'Oh I'm sorry'. That was it ... she did not touch the baby" despite the baby's mother shouting "Baby's not breathing."
Alice also claimed she repeatedly tried to get the prison guards to do something. "They kept hanging up on me. They said they'd called a code and said we'd just have to wait ... we didn't know what to do," she said. Eventually, the guards cut off the intercom to the room after which another one of the inmates inside the unit named 'Donna' administered CPR to the baby. After the prison guards finally came in, they treated the frantic mother with indifference. "There was no comforting. Someone asked her where the baby had been sleeping," claimed Alice.
However, the prison nurse has denied all accusations. Melody stated that she performed an examination of Baby A, only to discover that she was dead. The coroner heard that while Melody refused to perform CPR, the firefighters who later came in tried to revive the newborn. Additionally, Melody told barrister Julie Munster that Baby A's mother was "not necessarily" distressed by the situation, adding, "It was surprising." She further claimed that the mother was also "reluctant" to cooperate with the nurse.
Munster, who is acting on behalf of Baby A's mother, leveled questions against Melody. An exchange between the two during the inquest saw the barrister tell the nurse, "She [the mother] was begging you to help her baby." To this, Melody replied, "No." When Munster accused her of being "uncompassionate and unkind" for failing to tell Baby A's mother the results of the assessment she had made and why she refused her baby CPR, the prison nurse asserted, "No. I don't accept that. I'm a kind person." The inquest continues.