‘Did I discover a darkish aspect?’: the true story behind serial killer drama The Good Nurse | Films

‘Did I discover a darkish aspect?’: the true story behind serial killer drama The Good Nurse | Films

It was his shyness that struck her first. “He was so soft-spoken that instantly I felt like I wanted to guard him and my protecting nature kicked in immediately,” Amy Loughren recollects of Charles Cullen. “I knew that he was good. His information of medicines, his information of vital care was excellent, and I’m drawn to folks which might be smarter than me. And he laughed in any respect my jokes. So we had been quick mates.”

What Loughren didn’t know was that Cullen, a fellow night time nurse, was murdering sufferers by secretly administering drug overdoses. However she would finally assist detectives catch her colleague and buddy and put him behind bars. Right now he stays, by some estimates, probably the most prolific serial killer in American historical past.

Loughren and Cullen’s platonic relationship is on the centre of The Good Nurse, a Netflix movie directed by Tobias Lindholm and starring Oscar winners Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne. It’s a examine not solely in a mass assassin’s in the end unknowable motivations but additionally an indictment of a profit-driven American healthcare system that turned a blind eye even when pink flags had been raised.

Loughren, a single mom, had her personal damaging expertise of that system. The journey nurse at Somerset medical centre in Somerville, New Jersey, hid the truth that she suffered cardiomyopathy (a illness of the guts muscle) as a result of she knew that, if she missed greater than six days of labor, she would lose each her medical insurance and her job, leaving her unable to handle her household or pay for her medical care.

However she discovered a sympathiser in Cullen who, on becoming a member of the ICU, helped share her workload and canopy up her sickness. Talking by way of Zoom from Florida, Loughren explains: “He was one of many solely people who knew about it and he actually did perceive what it meant for me if it received out that I used to be too sick to be working. He actually helped me on these nights after I wasn’t bodily able to being there fully.”

Thrown collectively in an intense scenario, the pair bonded. “While you’re on life and demise you develop into very shut and, whether or not it’s wholesome or not, generally nurses see one another greater than they see their very own households as a result of we work actually lengthy hours. Night time nurses particularly have a tendency to only not have a lot of a social life as a result of all we wish to do is sleep after we’re dwelling. So we have a tendency to make use of our co-workers and our colleagues as our social life.

“Did I discover a darkish aspect? I observed that maybe he was depressed, perhaps that he was type of like me and affected by childhood trauma.” (Cullen’s father, a bus driver, died earlier than Cullen turned one yr outdated; his mom was killed in a automotive accident when he was a youngster.)

However there was by no means a touch of romance between them. Loughren, 57, feedback: “Charlie knew his limitations. One of many causes that we did have such a deep friendship was as a result of there wasn’t any of that. We had been so shut as a result of I used to be by no means involved about that and there was by no means any boy-girl stuff occurring ever.”

When phrase received out that the hospital had drawn the eye of regulation enforcement, Loughren nonetheless had no notion of what was afoot. She questioned if some medication had been stolen. Interviewed by a detective, her intuition was to defend her buddy. “I used to be saying, ‘You’re filled with shit. There’s completely no approach that my buddy Charlie – in the event you’re asking questions on him, I’m not cooperating.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, that’s our job.’”

After the detective introduced Loughren with proof of the precise medicines that Cullen had eliminated, she realised it may solely have been for sinister causes: there was no different clarification. Lastly, the reality had dawned. She understood what her buddy had been doing to the sufferers entrusted to his care, devastating their households.

She says now: “That’s the place all of my guilt is available in. Hindsight is 20:20. Till the detectives confirmed me the proof, I didn’t know, I didn’t develop into suspicious. I used to be capable of look again after I did see that proof after which issues began popping out and I began to recollect sure incidents the place I knew he in all probability did one thing, besides I wasn’t questioning him in that approach.

‘Did I discover a darkish aspect?’: the true story behind serial killer drama The Good Nurse | Films
Charles Cullen. {Photograph}: Kathy Johnson/AP

“You don’t query one other nurse after they make a selected choice when you realize that they’re a really expert nurse or they’re very seasoned. You would possibly assume, ‘That is probably not the identical choice I might make; nonetheless, they’re an excellent nurse, they’ve their causes.’

“Sure, there have been a few head tilts after we had been in code collectively or after I would stroll in on him and a code had already began and he would have given a sure remedy that I believed, ‘That’s odd, we don’t use that remedy any extra in our protocols, why is he utilizing that drugs?’ He was so good at what he did, I by no means thought, ‘Oh, he’s attempting to hurt somebody.’ Why would anybody assume that?”

Loughren felt sorrow for the victims and scared for her job. She agreed to work with the detectives to carry Cullen to justice. There have been some “powerful” cellphone calls with him as investigators listened in. Finally she met him at a diner whereas sporting a wire and will really feel her pulse quickening, a possible hazard given her coronary heart situation; the wire picked up the sound of her heartbeat. She confronted Cullen and received a partial confession; the wire malfunctioned however there was sufficient info to arrest him.

Given their shut friendship, did she really feel blended feelings? “Completely. I didn’t actually meet the assassin; I didn’t know this individual that might kill folks. It was very exhausting for me, betraying him, betraying a buddy in that approach.

“My integrity is fairly rattling intact. It’s very exhausting for me to pretend any feelings. Once I went in to speak to him, these feelings had been actual. I genuinely cared for him and I do know the one motive that we had been capable of really get him to admit was as a result of he did really feel comfy and he did care about me. No less than I believed so. I wish to assume so. I wish to assume that individual was actual they usually had been two completely different folks.

Amy Loughren and Jessica Chastain
Amy Loughren and Jessica Chastain. {Photograph}: Anthony Harvey/Rex/Shutterstock

Cullen was arrested in 2003. He confessed to killing as much as 40 sufferers and was sentenced to 11 life phrases. Investigators consider that the actual variety of sufferers he murdered whereas pinballing between 9 hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over 16 years might be as much as 400. On the first hospital the place he labored, for instance, he injected deadly medication into IV luggage that went out to sufferers at random; he as soon as admitted to poisoning three to 5 such luggage per week.

Loughren visited him in jail however didn’t get the solutions she needed. As soon as he found her half in his seize, all contact between them ceased.

She displays: “It’s been virtually 20 years and the individual behind bars is the assassin; it’s the place he must be. Holding him accountable for every thing that he did is the one approach that any of us can transfer on and any of the victims’ households can transfer on. He deserves to be behind bars. I additionally consider that he had psychological sickness that went unchecked and he cried out for assist so many occasions and was not given the assistance that he wanted, which additionally says quite a bit for our healthcare system.”

The Good Nurse makes a persuasive case that, as he switched from hospital to hospital, Cullen was capable of conceal his deadly poisoning – with overdoses of medicines similar to insulin and digoxin – of sufferers in intravenous fluids due to for-profit hospitals protecting up potential legal responsibility. That is within the context of a notoriously laissez-faire US healthcare system that sees an estimated 68,000 folks die annually as a result of they can’t afford the assistance they want.

Loughren, who retired as a nurse final yr and helped Chastain put together to play her on display, provides: “As soon as we began capitalising on folks’s struggling, we misplaced our soul and people sufferers stopped being human. These sufferers grew to become a greenback signal. These sufferers grew to become a analysis. These sufferers grew to become additionally one thing to take advantage of. The choice makers are so far-off from the bedside now, they don’t care. It’s undoubtedly a symptom of the darkish capitalism that’s our healthcare system.”

Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse
Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse. {Photograph}: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

The perils of working hospitals like companies underpins journalist Charles Graeber’s 2013 e book, The Good Nurse: A True Story of Drugs, Insanity and Homicide, based mostly on meticulous analysis and interviews with Cullen (“a tragic Mr Rogers kind, each drippy and depressed”) and Loughren, and a key supply for the movie. Requested about his motivations, Redmayne’s Cullen replies: “They didn’t cease me.”

Graeber recollects from his conversations with Cullen a way that the hospitals had been negligent of their duty as protectors and healers of susceptible sufferers. “Actually in his estimation, the hospitals knew what he was doing – a few of them a minimum of had a really sturdy sense of what he was as much as – and, quite than acquire a full understanding or take care of the correct plan of action, they’d give him constructive or impartial references and easily transfer him on to be another person’s downside.

“He felt that this dereliction of obligation uncovered a hypocrisy in his employers that he himself highlighted, as if he was virtually a critique of the system. He would by no means say it on this approach however he felt not directly justified.”

Talking by cellphone from Nantucket, Massachusetts, the 53-year-old creator provides: “I needed to spotlight the troublesome work nurses do and the nice work that good nurses do on a regular basis and the way skinny they’re stretched in a for-profit system. The healthcare system does extraordinarily effectively for itself and, for individuals who can afford it, it’s among the most interesting care on the earth, actually.

“However by way of serving the entire of the nation, the entire of those that want it, plainly its company id and for-profit pursuits cloud the judgment of a few of those that are designed to run or defend these establishments and it fails in the end sufferers and it treats many frontline healthcare employees as interchangeable elements. Charlie’s story highlights that. It’s ironic that he’s really on this approach appropriate: what he did is mistaken however, as a critique, I can’t think about a extra poignant one.”

  • The Good Nurse is on the market on Netflix now and a documentary, Capturing the Killer Nurse, will stream on Netflix from 11 November