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Nurse who refused to give CPR followed protocol, facility official says

March 5, 2013 |  6:02 am

The staff member at a Bakersfield senior living facility who refused to perform CPR on an 87-year-old woman who later died was following the facility's protocol, its executive director said
The staff member at a Bakersfield senior living facility who refused to perform CPR on an 87-year-old woman who later died was following the facility's protocol, its executive director said.

Jeffrey Toomer, the executive director of Glenwood Gardens, issued a statement on last week's incident, when a woman who identified herself as a nurse at the facility refused to give 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.

"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.

"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."

Authorities are also investigating the incident 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 reported.

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

Bayless was lying on the facility's 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 Brookedale 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.

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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-- Hailey Branson-Potts

Photo: A man walks near the main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. Credit: Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press

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