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BAKERSFIELD (KPIX 5) — A Central California retirement facility is under scrutiny after a 911 call revealed a nurse refused to give an unconscious woman CPR. The woman later died.
On Tuesday morning, authorities received a 911 call from Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield after 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room and was barely breathing.
Dispatcher: “We need to get CPR started.”
Glenwood Gardens: “Yeah, we can’t do CPR at the facility.”
The nurse said providing CPR is against her company’s policy.
“Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone, please?” the dispatcher said. “She’s going to die if we don’t get this started. Do you understand?”
The nurse, who identifies herself only as Colleen talked to dispatcher Tracey Halvorson.
Dispatcher: “I don’t understand why you’re not willing to help this patient.”
Glenwood Gardens: “I am…”
Dispatcher: “Okay, great. Then I’ll walk you through it all.”
Halvorson became increasingly frustrated during the phone call, which lasted for seven minutes and 16 seconds. The dispatcher begged the nurse to perform CPR or put someone on the phone who is willing to try.
Dispatcher: “Is there anybody that works there that’s willing to do it?”
Glenwood Gardens: “We can’t.”
Dispatcher: “Or are we just going to let this lady die?”
Glenwood Gardens: “Well that’s why we’re calling 911.”
Dispatcher: “We can’t wait. She can’t wait right now.”
Help came too late for Bayless. An ambulance took the woman to a hospital where she died. She reportedly did not have a do-not-resuscitate order.
While the nurse said she was following policy, a legal analyst told CBS the death opens up a legal can of worms.
“They’re looking at lawsuits that could put them out of business,” said legal analyst Steve Meister. “Every person in the facility and the owner of the facility could be looking at license revocation from the state, and they could be criminally prosecuted – on the theory of homicide.”
Bayless was part of the independent facility at Glenwood Gardens, which is separate from the skilled and assisted nursing facility. The independent section does not offer medical help. Instead, their practice is to call 911 in an emergency.
Jeffrey Toomer, the executive director of the facility, confirmed the staff does not attempt CPR. In a statement, Toomer said, “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 there will be a through review of Tuesday’s incident.
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