Refusing CPR to dying woman not a crime, police conclude
No crime was committed at a senior living facility where a staff member refused to perform CPR on an elderly woman who later died, Bakersfield police concluded.
The investigation would appear to close the books on the case, which has generated national attention.
The Bakersfield Police Department said it will not be pursuing any criminal charges pertaining to the case.
Police began their probe Monday into Glenwood Gardens, where a woman who identified herself as a nurse refused to administer CPR to a woman as directed by a fire dispatcher. Police were trying to "determine if there were any criminal violations ... pertaining to the death" of 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless on Feb. 26, the department said in a statement.
Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living, which owns Glenwood Gardens, said in a statement the staff member is on voluntary leave while an internal investigation into the incident is conducted.
The staff member said it was against the facility's policy for her to perform CPR, according to a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department. Initially, Glenwood Gardens said the staff member followed protocol.
"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," Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, 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."
The parent company, however, released a statement Tuesday saying the staff member handled the situation incorrectly.
"This incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents," Brookdale Senior Living said in a statement. The company declined, however, to spell out what that misunderstanding was.
Bayless' family said in a statement to the Associated Press they do not plan to sue Glenwood Gardens. Family members said they regret that "this private and personal time has been escalated by the media."
"Our family knows that Mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace," the family's statement read.
The Bakersfield property has multiple buildings with different state licenses. One is licensed by the state Department of Public Health as a skilled nursing facility and is able to provide medical care. Another is licensed by the Department of Social Services as an assisted living facility, which does not provide medical care but assists residents with daily tasks.
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 senior citizens. Glenwood Gardens officials have said Bayless lived in that building.
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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