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Refusal to perform CPR at senior living facility probed

A staff member refused a 911 dispatcher's directions to give Lorraine Bayless, 87, CPR, saying it was against policy.

March 05, 2013|By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
  • A man walks near the main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, where the staff refused to perform CPR on a resident who died.
A man walks near the main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, where… (Gosia Wozniacka, Associated…)

Bakersfield police are investigating a senior living facility over its handling of an 87-year-old woman who died after a staff member declined to perform CPR last week.

A woman who identified herself as a nurse at Glenwood Gardens refused to give the woman CPR as directed by a Bakersfield fire dispatcher, saying that it was against the facility's policy for staff to do so, according to a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department.

Police are trying to "determine whether or not there is any criminal wrongdoing in the matter," such as negligence or abuse, said Michaela Beard, a spokeswoman for the Bakersfield Police Department.

The woman was identified in an incident report from the Bakersfield Fire Department as Lorraine Bayless. She died Feb. 26 at Mercy Southwest Hospital, KGET-TV Channel 17 reported.

The incident report states, "the facility was refusing to initiate CPR."

Bayless was lying on the dining room floor, not breathing, and had no pulse by the time paramedics arrived, according to the report. A do-not-resuscitate order was not present in Bayless' paperwork, the report states.

Before an ambulance arrived, Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson for several minutes begged the staff member to begin CPR, saying something had to be done before an ambulance arrived because the woman was not breathing enough, according to the tape.

After the staff member repeatedly refused, Halvorson asked her to find anyone willing to help, saying she would talk them through performing CPR and that "EMS takes the liability for this."

"Is there a gardener? Or any staff? ... Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady? Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger will help her," Halvorson said.

When Halvorson asked the staff member if she was going to let the woman die, the staff member said, "That's why we're calling 911."

The staff member was "serving in the capacity of a resident services director, not as a nurse," said Christopher Finn, a spokesman for Brookdale Senior Living, which owns Glenwood Gardens. Finn would not comment on whether she was licensed as a nurse.

Glenwood Gardens "is an independent living facility, which by law is not licensed to provide medical care to any of its residents," Finn said in a statement.

Jeffrey Toomer, the executive director of Glenwood Gardens, said the staff member followed the facility's policies.

"In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives," Toomer said in a statement.

"That is the protocol we followed," he said. "As with any incident involving a resident, we will conduct a thorough internal review of this matter."

Bakersfield Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza said Halvorson followed protocol, and dispatchers give CPR instructions over the phone numerous times each year.

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