Family: Woman at care center did not want life-prolonging measures
The 87-year-old woman who died after a staff member at a Bakersfield senior living facility refused to perform CPR last week did not want life-prolonging intervention, her family said Tuesday.
In a statement to the Associated Press, the family of Lorraine Bayless said they do not plan to sue the facility, Glenwood Gardens.
A Glenwood Gardens staff member who identified herself as a nurse refused to give Bayless CPR as directed by a Bakersfield fire dispatcher, saying it was against the facility’s policy for staff to do so, according to a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department. Bayless died Feb. 26.
Family members said they regret that “this private and personal time has been escalated by the media,” according to the Associated Press. The 911 tape, in which Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson pleads with the staff member to begin CPR, has garnered widespread attention.
“We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace,” the family’s statement read.
An incident report from the Fire Department states, “The facility was refusing to initiate CPR.” Bayless was 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.
For several minutes Halvorson begged the staff member to begin CPR, saying something had to be done before an ambulance arrived because the woman was not breathing. The staff member repeatedly refused, according to the tape.
The staff member was “serving in the capacity of a resident services director, not as a nurse,” said Christopher Finn, a regional director of operations for Brookdale Senior Living, which owns Glenwood Gardens. He would not comment on whether the staff member was licensed as a nurse.
Glenwood Gardens “is an independent living facility,” which by law is not licensed to provide medical care to its residents, according to a statement from Finn.
Glenwood Gardens has multiple buildings with different state licenses on the Bakersfield property.
One building is licensed by the California Department of Public Health as a skilled-nursing facility, which is able to provide medical care, state officials said. Another is licensed by the Department of Social Services as an assisted-living facility, which does not provide medical care but assists residents with such tasks as bathing, meals and the supervision of medication, said Michael Weston, a department spokesman.
Weston said another portion of Glenwood Gardens is an independent-living facility, which is not licensed by the state, does not provide medical care and operates like an apartment complex for seniors. “It’s basically a rental agreement,” he said.
Glenwood Gardens officials have said Bayless lived in the independent-living building.
The Bakersfield Police Department began a formal investigation of the facility Monday, said Sgt. Jason Matson. Two detectives were assigned to the case, he said.
“Nobody had come forward with any type of formal complaint,” Matson said. “As more evidence came forward, we just wanted to ensure that there's no criminal wrongdoing.”
Police are looking at the case “from different angles,” Matson said.
Michaela Beard, a spokeswoman for the department, said police are trying to determine whether negligence, abuse or other factors could have been involved.
Glenwood Gardens Executive Director Jeffrey Toomer 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,” he said in a statement.
-- Hailey Branson-Potts
Photo: The main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. Credit: Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press