OPINION: Newborns, Nurses and Nuts: The Kennedy Baby Incident in Westchester

Who was right in the infant incident, RFK's son or the nurse?

The following opinion piece is from Westchester Real Estate Broker and Blogger Phil Faranda.

I'll take off my real estate broker hat for a day and exercise my first amendment right to opine as a father on the kerfuffle caused by the incident at maternity ward between Douglas Kennedy and the nursing staff. As a father of four myself, I have been in my share of maternity wards. As the son of a 50-year RN, I suppose my bias might show. So be it.

The bottom line to any maternity ward first, last and always is the massive responsibility of preserving helpless newborn lives. Maternity nurses are not the afterthoughts of staff competence; they are among the best staff at any facility. They also have the gigantic job of overseeing, at any one time, half a dozen to a dozen or more infants with varying needs. This, in addition to dealing with fatigued, emotionally stressed parents and grandparents, requires some understandably strict ground rules. You cannot come and go as you please, and that is why the babies are behind glass.  


There are those who have taken exception to the poll of public opinion that seems to be in favor of the RNs in this case, saying that unless we were there, we ought not judge. That is taking the audacious presupposition that what Mr Kennedy was doing, namely exiting the maternity ward with a 2 days old in February on his own, was a neutral matter open to interpretation. It wasn't.
If maternity wards allowed relatives to leave with newborns on elevators, given the stakes, a very damaging uncontrolled dynamic occurs. RNs, as I said, have to run a tight ship because fragile, precious lives are at stake. Roger Ailes, whose carefully worded show of support for Kennedy, is wrong when he mentions poor judgement on the RN's part. They should not be forced into positions where they have to make nuanced judgements about the relative merits of a father leaving on a January day with a 2 day old in a blanket alone. That's not how maternity wards do their job. Remember: the baby, first, last, always.

Also wrong is the ER doctor Haydock, coincidentally also a friend of the family, who voiced his support for Kennedy. An ER doctor should have as much say about a maternity ward issue as a dentist or a ophthalmologist. At best, Dr. Haydock is disregarding the necessary and serious rules the nurses must abide by. Had something happened to young Bo once his father left the ward, I can only imagine the accusations of incompetence toward the nurses for allowing him out.  

I do support the nurses' retaining a lawyer in this matter. They should defend themselves. Undermining them in this case puts every baby in a hospital bassinet just a tad more in harms way when their crucial job is compromised in favor of a parent's misguided view. However, I will say that Mr Kennedy was misguided more in the moment than overall, and emotions have now taken over in the aftermath.

In fairness, I take exception to the knee jerk dismissal of Mr Kennedy as an arrogant, privileged heir flexing his superiority. If his name were Doug Skakel, the public would view this as an unfortunate incident that happened in an instant involving a father who may not have been rested, and could well have misunderstood casual conversation with others at the facility. I recall bristling with my first child at the rigidity of the maternity ward with our first baby in 2002. First or 5th, the birth of a baby is so rare we are seldom ourselves. But that doesn't give him the high ground.

My view is that Mr. Kennedy would be best to issue an apology and chalk it up to the momentary fogged vision of a sleep deprived and tired father. If that happened, the lawyering up we are witnessing should stop. This should go away quietly, and should not be played out in court. I never want to have my own in a maternity ward where the nurses have their hands tied because of lawyers maneuverings in a court room.

For more real estate commentary, log onto Westchester Real Estate Blog, authored by J. Philip Faranda, broker and owner of J. Philip Real Estate.


Common Sense March 05, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Children have rights too and Hospital staff will generally act in the best interest of the child at all times and let the courts sort it out later if needed. Maternity rules are made to protect all the children and this does impact parental custody... parents are capable of nutty and dangerous behavior. Parents, even wealthy ones, may be on drugs or mentally ill and protecting the child is paramount. Kennedy's behavior was certainly erratic, hard to explain, and not in the best interest of the child.
Carol March 05, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Not even a father has the right to endanger other newborns by exposing other babies as well as his own child to possible illness or injury. His behavior was irresponsible. On admission, you agree to follow hospital regulations . There is not a hospital in existence that does not have these regulations. They exist to protect patients and themselves from liability, which they have a responsibility to do. I'm betting it won't see a courtroom, but I hope it does.
David Hodson March 05, 2012 at 08:56 PM
There are three people writing in vigorously in Defense of this very clear cut case. This paper might have a nice basis for an article if it would do a reverse lookup on the IP#'s of the three aliases. I would not be surprised if they were in the same range. Possibly that of robertgottlieblaw.com? Also just google G. Scott@ or click http://www.healthgrades.com/physician/dr-john-scott-3f86q. You are never anonymous on the internet. Just saying.
Atom March 05, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Ah ha!! I see you ,Mr G Scott, are working for the defense and trying to convince the rest of the community on here that Mr Kennedy was right in kicking the nurse and using some legal defense ...you sir will have your day in court but these nurses had every right to protect that child and were definitely abused by Mr Kennedy.....but you trying to diminish the nurses will not help Mr Kennnedys defense.....
Carol March 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
David and Atom....That's pretty funny! Typical defense lawyers?


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