America’s “60 Minutes” (CBS network) grabbed a jailhouse interview with Angel of Death killer nurse, Charles Cullen, this weekend.
The Cullen story broke about two years before I left for Japan. You may be surprised by some of the facts in what was reported in the piece, but the overall story had been reported in the New York Times some years ago.
Besides the two Somerset County detectives interviewed, the other hero was Dr. Steven Marcus of the state’s poison control center. He was one of the first to isolate that something was truly wrong at Somerset Medical Center.
What always stood out for me about the Cullen story was the way that Pennsylvania “legitimized” Cullen. Cullen began his bedside murders at Pennsylvania hospitals, being quietly sacked, and then moving east into New Jersey. I felt that because Pennsylvania has always been so weak on regulation (smart regulation, let’s say), it enabled Cullen to build up a resume before he was let loose on an unsuspecting Somerset County, New Jersey public. Sure, the hospital management at Somerset has fault and deserves the burden of blame for the multiple deaths. But Pennsylvania’s fantasy 19th century political culture also played a role.