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Police probe nurse's refusal to give CPR to woman, 87, who then died

March 4, 2013 |  5:57 pm

The Glenwood Gardens senior citizen residential community in Bakersfield. Police are investigating the case of a resident there who died when a nurse on staff refused to perform CPR, instead waiting for emergency personnel.
Bakersfield police are investigating a senior living facility for its handling of the case of an elderly woman who died after a nurse declined to perform CPR last week.

The nurse at Glenwood Gardens refused to give the woman CPR as requested 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.

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, 87. She died Tuesday at Mercy Southwest Hospital, KGET-TV Channel 17 reported.

An incident report from the Fire Department states, “the facility was refusing to initiate CPR.”

The woman was lying on the dining-room floor, not breathing and with no pulse by the time paramedics arrived, according to the report. There was no do-not-resuscitate order in her paperwork, the report states.

Before an ambulance arrived, Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson for several minutes begged the nurse 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 nurse 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 nurse if she was going to let the woman die, the nurse said, “That’s why we’re calling 911.”

Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, said the nurse 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 that dispatchers give CPR instructions over the phone numerous times each year.


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Photo: Glenwood Gardens senior citizen residential community in Bakersfield. Credit: Associaterd Press