Facility's no-CPR policy takes heat after woman's death

PAN Media

This post is courtesy of Janice Lloyd and originally appeared on USA Today.

March 4, 2013

The death of an 87-year-old woman who did not receive CPR in her central California retirement community was a tragedy waiting to happen, long-term care housing experts say.

A nurse at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, Calif., refused to give Lorraine Bayless CPR after she collapsed last Tuesday in the dining room and was barely breathing. The nurse called 911 for help, saying it was against the facility's policy for staff to give CPR.

"It's a human being," dispatcher Tracey Halvorson says on a 911 tape released Sunday by the Bakersfield Fire Department. It was aired by many media outlets Monday.

"Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

"Um, not at this time,'' the nurse said. Bayless was declared dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital later Tuesday.

"I was appalled to hear of a policy at a facility that will not give CPR,'' says Robyn Grant, director of public relations and advocacy for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Longterm Care. "Who knew? I guess this has never come up before, but it will from now on. It's an incredible tragedy."

KGET-TV says Bayless' daughter told the station she is a nurse and was "satisfied with Glenwood's handling of the situation." It said she had no "do not resuscitate" order on file.

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse's actions, saying she did indeed follow policy.

"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," Toomer said in a written statement. "That is the protocol we followed."

Toomer said a "thorough internal review" of the incident would be conducted. Bakersfield police are also conducting an investigation.

Toomer told KGET that residents of the home's independent living community are informed of the "no-CPR" policy and agree to it when they move in.

The policy does not apply at the adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Those residents would have received CPR in identical circumstances.

Calls by USA TODAY to Toomer and parent company Brookdale Senior Living, which operates long-term care facilities in 36 states, were not returned. Glenwood Gardens' website says Brookdale facilities are listed among the top 2012 choices for senior living and nursing homes, on lists by CNN and U.S. News & World Report.

"This speaks to the fact that consumers have to be extremely vigilant when selecting independent living and assisted living care,'' Grant says. "It's really hard when you're looking for care and reading these contracts to understand every word. We suggest people take them to an attorney to understand the responsibilities of the facilities."

Continue reading on USA Today...

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