How much is the life of the retired war hero portrayed in the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, worth to an abusive corporate nursing home? Arkansas legislators want to pass Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment which limits the value of life and says the lives of nursing home residents are worth less than $500,000 simply because they don’t have “economic value,” i.e., aren’t in the work force. The heroic life and tragic death of Staff Sergeant Denver “Bull” Randleman, who was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, reveals the shocking consequences of this harmful proposal. A war hero who endured punishing conditions to fight the Nazis, Randleman’s heroism was portrayed in the award-winning HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. Tragically, Randleman died an excruciating death due to negligence in an abusive Texarkana nursing home. Under Issue 1, the value of his life and penalty for his horrific suffering due to nursing home neglect would be less than $500,000, only because he was 82 and retired. To a corporate nursing home raking in millions of dollars in revenue, this is merely to a slap on the wrist for deadly neglect.
Randleman, an 82-year-old retiree, had surgery to place an AV graft in his arm in anticipation of his eventual need for dialysis. He was discharged to a Texarkana nursing home for a 30-day period of rest and rehabilitation. It was his only option as his wife was also elderly. It was meant to be a brief stop on his way back home after the surgery. But Denver Randleman never went home again. Mr. Randleman entered the nursing home on May 12, 2003. It was the job of the nursing home staff to look after his surgical wound and ensure that it was healing and free of infection. According to the nursing home’s documentation of the wound, the wound site was normal and healing.
In documentation day after day, there was never any mention of redness or drainage or rupture of the wound. But on June 16, Mr. Randleman went to see his doctor for a previously scheduled post-surgical evaluation. To the doctor’s shock and surprise, Mr. Randleman came in to his office pale, incoherent and breathing rapidly. The wound that according to the nursing home was just fine, was actually red, ruptured, swollen and extremely tender. The nursing home staff did not have a clue because they did not have the time to observe and evaluate the wound. Randleman’s wound was infected and contained an abscess, which is a large pocket of pus. Shockingly, Randleman’s shunt was visible through the opening in the wound.
Denver Randleman suffered a severe deterioration while in the nursing home. Instead of a properly healing wound that would have been achieved by standard, simple nursing care, Mr. Randleman had a preventable severe MRSA infection in the surgical graft that had become septic. This means the wound festered for so long, the bacteria had spread into his bloodstream and become a deadly infection. The nursing home could have easily detected the signs of infection early, and with proper intervention Mr. Randleman could have been treated for a mild infection. However, the facility was chronically short of staff, and the staff never had the time to watch for early signs of infection in a post-surgical wound. Only months prior to going into this nursing home, Denver Randleman, though 82 years old, had been traveling around the world to the premieres of Band of Brothers, visiting with our service members along the way. Less than a year later he was dead due to a preventable infection.
In the Battle of the Bulge, Randleman and his brothers in arms were freezing in the European woods. His legs were so frostbitten that his hair follicles died and for the rest of his life, no hair grew on his legs from the calves down. Michael Cudlitz, the star of The Walking Dead, played Denver Randleman in Band of Brothers. They became close and formed a strong bond. When Cudlitz asked Randleman about the pain of his lower legs freezing, Randleman just said he did not remember it. Cudlitz persisted and Randleman said this, “Well, I remember sitting in a hole, freezing, watching men around me die…..” In his deposition testimony, Cudlitz was asked whether the value of Bull Randleman’s life was less because he was elderly. Cudlitz said, “…so far as dealing with everything that’s happened in his family since his death, which is the loss of his daughter, which his wife had to go through by herself, his son being diagnosed with lymph cancer, which his wife has to go through by herself, and the fact that he would still be traveling around, possibly, meeting troops and sharing his story with the world, I think…his life is more valuable.”
Issue 1 says Randleman’s life is worth less than $500,000. The nursing home’s neglect deprived our brave troops now fighting Al Qaeda and ISIS from the stories and wisdom of this brave veteran who helped take down the mighty German Army. Countless valuable Arkansans don’t work including babies, children, stay at home moms, the elderly, and the disabled. But here in Arkansas, we believe that every life is priceless and that one life is not more valuable than another. Any corporate nursing home should operate as though every life in their beds is priceless, and if they don’t, they should be held accountable. Help us protect the vulnerable and injured in Arkansas and vote against Issue 1.