Two hospital nurses at the center of a scuffle involving Douglas Kennedy and his newborn son say they still bear both emotional and physical pain from a disagreement that turned ugly.
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Speaking in a taped segment on TODAY Thursday, Northern Westchester Hospital nurses Anna Margaret Lane and Cari Maleman Luciano gave their account of the events of Jan. 7 at the suburban New York City hospital, which began Kennedy was seen boarding an elevator with his recently born son Bo, a move they say was unauthorized.
Luciano told NBC's Jonathan Dienst she and Lane attempted to block Kennedy from exiting the maternity ward with his child.
"We kept saying to him, we need to step out of the elevator, we need to get the baby to your room, back to your bassinet, and safe," she said.
But Lane, a supervising nurse at the hospital maternity ward, said that Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy and a reporter for Fox News, resisted. "(He said) 'I don't have to listen to you. It's my child. I'm going out for fresh air,' " Lane said.
‘I still have pain’
Kennedy then headed for a stairwell, where Lane and Luciano say they attempted to block his exit. But what had been a verbal disagreement turned physical, they claim.
"I'm standing at the door and he grabs my wrist and turns my hand ... I still have pain in my arm," Lane told Dienst.Video: Bobby Kennedy’s son charged after ruckus (on this page)
Choking back tears, Luciano said that Kennedy assaulted her. "I wanted to make sure the baby was safe and secure and he brought his leg up and kicked me, and I went flying through the air," she said.
Meanwhile, they said, Kennedy himself fell to the ground with his baby in his arms. "I'm petrified the baby is going to go flying down the stairs," Lane added.
The nurses reported the incident, and Kennedy was charged on misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment. But Kennedy and his wife, Molly, call the charges "absurd."
"It is sickening to think that our simple desire to take our son outside for fresh air has been warped into a charge of child endangerment," the couple said in a statement. Kennedy is due in court in April on the charges.Video: Nurses speak out in Kennedy hospital scuffle (on this page)
Kennedy's attorney, Robert Gottlieb, told Reuters news agency his client had received permission to leave the building from other hospital personnel, and hospital physician and Kennedy friend Timothy Haydock backs Kennedy's version of the events.
"I witnessed the incident, and I can state unequivocally that the nurses were the only aggressors," Haydock said in a statement released by Gottlieb.
Gottlieb also maintains that the Kennedys’ privacy has been violated. “The nurses continue to violate the HIPAA privacy rules," he told NBC’s Dienst, referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which addresses the privacy of health data. “This is is very serious. And the Kennedys will not tolerate the violation of their privacy rights. And we are notifying their attorney that he, too, stands in danger of violating the HIPAA federal law.”
But an attorney for the nurses told Dienst that the women were no speaking about anyone’s medical record — only the alledged crime by Kennedy. Now Kennedy's wife has issued a formal complaint against the hospital, while nurses Lane and Luciano plan to file a lawsuit against the Kennedys.
And Lane made it clear it's an incident she won't soon forget.
"To be assaulted because you're protecting the best interest of a baby?" Lane told NBC's Dienst. "That's not OK. I was doing my job, and this was traumatic."
But in a statement, Kennedy attorney Gottlieb said: "As these two people and their personal injury attorney continue their campaign to smear the good name of Mr. Kennedy, one question remains: How much money are they looking for? Though they won't publicly ask, we'll answer: They won't get a penny. Trying to aggressively snatch a two-day-old baby from a loving father's arms doesn't get you a payday."
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