Prison nurse who did not perform CPR on unresponsive newborn gets immunity from prosecution
VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA: A nurse, stationed at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, who did not provide CPR to an unconscious child, has now become immune from prosecution. As per reports, prison nurse Georgina Melody declined to perform the emergency procedure while “Baby A” died in her mother’s arms inside 'Mothers and Children Units' at the country’s maximum security women's prison in 2018. At the time of her death, the tot was only 12 days old and later her cause of death was revealed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Melody was reportedly granted immunity in exchange for evidence she will give at the inquest, which has begun and will last two weeks. It has been said that Coroner John Olle is presiding over the inquest to make sure that no other such tragedies happen in the future.
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Olle was told that Melody did not perform the CPR claiming the child was already dead when she was informed about her condition by her panic-stricken mother, whose name has been concealed. The nurse’s barrister Robert Harper told the coroner: “It's not in dispute that nurse Melody did not perform CPR.”
But the devastated mother, apparently a young Vietnamese woman, of the baby told the court, “I still cannot understand why none of the staff did CPR or anything for the baby until the firefighters arrived.” It was not just the mother who were left disturbed over the nurse’s apathy but also the prison staff and investigators. One of them said, as reported by the DailyMail: “I did not see the nurse perform any CPR on the child. I found this to be quite distressing to witness.” Another one stated, “I was surprised and distressed by this lack of action.”
A prison operation supervisor told Olle, “I was taken aback by the fact that nobody was giving medical treatment to the baby.” Dr Julia Charlton, a Fellow at Murdoch Children's Research Institute who testified at the inquest as an expert, added: “The first responders could have provided earlier CPR, particularly the onsite nurse, who was a trained professional ... the actions of the other first responders cannot be faulted.”
Counsel assisting the coroner Rachel Ellyard said, “It's clear from her coronial impact statement that she felt that there was a delay. The statements of her fellow prisoners also indicate how long it seemed to them before any help arrived. When help did come in the form of prison guards and then the nurse, it was distressing to some that no CPR was attempted. It may be that Baby A was already beyond help, but the evidence will consider whether overall Baby A and her mother received a timely response, remembering that they were locked in a prison unit with no access to the outside world other than through the assistance of prison officers.”
In a 2019 report, a source had expressed concerns over children’s care inside the jail, which holds convicts like Judy Moran and the 'Black Widow' serial killer Robyn Lindholm. They said: “What really frightens me is that there is going to be more infants coming in. If nothing changes, if basic first aid isn't administered or someone is calling up at 2am and their baby has got an ear ache that could burst or something, can't see the prison doctor for days on end, it's only a matter of time before an another baby dies.”