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Senior facility defends nurse who wouldn't perform CPR on resident

March 3, 2013 |  1:14 pm

Photo: The Glenwood Gardens. Credit: HandoutThe executive director of a senior living facility in Bakersfield defended its policies that apparently prohibited a nurse last week from giving CPR to an elderly woman who was said to be barely breathing and later died.

“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” Jeffrey Toomer, director of the facility, said in a statement on behalf of Glenwood Gardens.

“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, but we have no further comments at this time.”

Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson pleaded with the nurse on the phone, begging her to start CPR on the elderly resident, according to the 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department.

“It’s a human being,” Halvorson said, speaking quickly.

“Is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

The woman paused.

“Um, not at this time.”

The nurse refused to give the woman CPR, saying it was against the facility’s policy for staff to do so, according to the tape.

The elderly woman was identified by KGET-TV as 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless. She died Tuesday at Mercy Hospital Southwest, KGET reported.

On the tape, a different Glenwood Gardens employee said that an elderly woman had passed out in the facility’s dining room while eating and was barely breathing.

For several minutes, Halvorson begged the nurse to begin CPR, saying something had to be done before an ambulance arrived.

After the nurse repeatedly refused, Halvorson asked her to find a passerby or anyone who would be willing to help. Halvorson said she would talk someone through performing CPR.

“I understand if your facility is not willing to do that,” Halvorson told the nurse. “Give the phone to that passerby, that stranger. … This woman’s not breathing enough.

“She’s going to die if we don’t get this started. … I don’t understand why you’re not willing to help this patient.”

The nurse could be heard talking to someone else at the facility.

“She’s yelling at me,” she said of Halvorson, “and saying we have to have one of our residents perform CPR. I’m feeling stressed, and I’m not going to do that, make that call.”

The patient did not have a do-not-resuscitate order, according to KGET-TV.

When Halvorson asked the nurse if she was going to let the woman die, the nurse said, “That’s why we called 911.”

After a few minutes, the nurse said the ambulance had arrived. The tape ended with Halvorson sighing.

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

Bayless' daughter told KGET that she was a nurse and was satisfied with her mother's care at Glenwood Gardens, the station reported.

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-- Hailey Branson-Potts

twitter.com/haileybranson

Photo: Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. Credit: Handout

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