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Family backs adult care center that refused CPR to dying woman

March 5, 2013 |  5:33 pm

Photo: The main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. Credit: Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press

The family of an 87-year-old woman who died after a staff member at a Bakersfield nursing home refused to perform CPR last week backed the decision and said they do not plan to sue the facility.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the family said the woman did not want life-prolonging intervention at the home.

"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 statement read.

The staff member, who identified herself as a nurse at Glenwood Gardens refused to give the elderly woman 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.

The Bakersfield Police Department began a formal investigation of the facility Monday, said  Sgt. Jason Matson. Two detectives have been assigned to the case, he said.

"Nobody had come forward with any type of formal complaint," Matson said. "We monitored it ... as more evidence came forward, we just wanted to ensure that there's no criminal wrongdoing," he said.

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 in Glenwood Gardens' handling of the woman.

The elderly woman was identified in a Bakersfield Fire Department incident report as Lorraine Bayless. She died Feb. 26 at Mercy Southwest Hospital, KGET-TV (Channel 17) reported.

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

Bayless was lying 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.

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.

The staff member repeatedly refused, saying it was against the facility's policy for her to perform CPR. The staff member was "serving in the capacity of a resident services director, not as a nurse," said Christopher Finn, a spokesman for Brookdale 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.

Jeffrey Toomer, the executive director of Glenwood Gardens, 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," Toomer said in a statement.


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Photo: The main gate of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. Credit: Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press