Friday, November 2, 2012

Just... Wow...

Mom seeks changes at USM after worker dies
PORTLAND – The mother of a man who lay for five days on the floor of his University of Southern Maine office after suffering an apparent massive stroke said she wants campus police to conduct more careful and frequent checks of university buildings.
David Norton, a senior communications specialist for the University of Maine System, died Oct. 15 at Maine Medical Center, five days after he was found by USM police in his office in an isolated wing of the Science Building in Portland. Police and his family believe Norton lay alone and ill in his office from the Friday before Columbus Day weekend until the following Wednesday. The campus was closed for the holiday weekend.
First off, condolences to Mr. Norton's family. Reading the article, it seems like he was a very nice guy that worked hard and had lots of friends. This is truly a tragedy, and it seems like the best possible result would be for positive changes to occur as a result of this. The USM system claims that it isn't feasible to conduct daily office checks because of the size of the campus; in today's electronic age there has got to be a better solution than for some poor guy to suffer in his office for five days unnoticed.

Someone in comments brought up an interesting point: Doesn't the University have cleaning crews? They also mention that his car was ticketed three times over the weekend - none of this raised any flags as he was known to leave his car in the lot when he went on hiking trips. It sounds like this is one of those "20:20 Hindsight" deals where, knowing what happened after the fact, all the pieces fit neatly together. It's hard to imagine how much could be done differently - this was a guy who often worked odd hours, left his car on campus over the weekend, and had little daily oversight.

See! He should have had a blog so folks would know something was wrong if nothing got posted!

That is all.


skidmark said...

As much as I hate the things, a RFID chip in the worker ID can be a life-saver. If the monitoring system shows your chip present after closing time somebody goes and find out why. And to prevent false readings from IDs left behind, make it such that you need to scan your card to get in/out. (Now you know one of the reasons I hate the things.)

Otherwise we are left with the fact that the primary function of "security staff" is to detect things like intrusion and fire, not to make sure everybody is upright and breathing.

Condolences to the family, but I do wonder if the fellow might have been noticed if he had notified security he was staying late. There's a chance they might have noticed he still had not been logged out.

stay safe.

Dave H said...

My heart goes out to the family. That's a hard way to lose someone.

In the old days when people actually lived together, there was usually someone who'd notice if you didn't come home and could start making phone calls. (We did that when my daughter didn't bother to come home from the club one night, and left her cell phone turned off. We called the police, then made her call them to report herself found when she got home. Humiliation is a powerful motivator.)

I'm not trying to lay blame on the family. I'm sure it was Norton's choice to maintain his privacy. But too much privacy has its downside.

Andie said...

At the risk of sounding (insert choice word here), here are some things that didn't make the press:
1) his family and some friends tried to contact him after Sunday;
2) security @ USM does nothing differently if you notify them you are staying late.

Dave was my friend, and his loss has hit our circle really hard because he was the best of the best: loving of his family and friends, the guy who always brought quick wit to the table, and remembered to keep things fun especially in some really tough situations. But he was VERY private--maybe to his detriment, I am still struggling with that piece.

The above comments are valid, and I agree with Jay's point, ESPECIALLY in light of Dave being in the IT department (no small irony there). USM may "look into it" but in reality, things will not change unless his family decides to make a high-profile lawsuit out of it, or the gods forbid, this happens again.

Dave H said...

Andie, I'm sorry for your loss.

Andie said...

Dave H, thank you. It's always tough to lose a friend who is extended family.