A senior living facility in Bakesfield, California, says one its nurses was just doing her job when she refused a 911 dispatchers repeated pleas to perform CPR on an elderly resident who ultimately passed away.
87-year-old Lorraine Bayless suddenly collapsed last Tuesday morning inside the dining room of Glenwood Gardens' independent living facility, and a staff nurse who happened to be in the area phoned 911.
A few minutes into her conversation with Bakersfield Fire Dispatcher Tracey Halvorson, the nurse — identified only as Colleen — was instructed to begin performing CPR.
"Yeah, we can't do CPR," Colleen tells Halvorson, referencing a Glenwood policy which prohibits staff members from performing CPR on residents of the independent living facility.
Halvorson tried over the next several minutes to convince Colleen to hand the phone to someone — anyone — who was willing to perform CPR on Bayless.
But the nurse maintained her adherence to protocol.
"I cannot have our other senior citizens who don't know CPR do it," she told Halvorson, who insisted that she could walk a perfect stranger through the procedure.
In a last-ditch effort to get the dying Bayless some assistance, Halvorson tried to assure Colleen that she would not be held responsible if something went wrong and that "EMS takes liability for this."
"I understand if your boss is telling you you can't do it," Halvorson can be heard telling the nurse in harrowing audio of the 911 call. "But if there's any...it's a human being...is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"
To which Colleen responds: "Not at this time."
Emergency crews eventually arrived and Bayless was rushed to Mercy Hospital Southwest, but it was too late.
In response to the outcry, Glenwood executive director Jeffrey Toomer released a statement saying the facility's practice in the event of a health emergency "is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."
Toomer told Channel 17 that, unlike clients of Glenwood's skilled nursing facility and assisted living facility, elderly individuals who reside at the independent retirement facility are not eligible for medical help, and they are made aware of that when they move in.
Bayless's daughter, a nurse herself, confirmed that her mother did not have a do-not-resuscitate order, but said she was satisfied with the way Glenwood handled the situation.