Senior Living Facility Policy: No CPR on Residents, Let Them Die Instead

Do you have anyone in your family that is currently living in a nursing home or assisted living facility?  If so, you may want to pay particular attention to this report and then take action to see what the policies are for your loved ones.

Glenwood Gardens is a senior living facility in Bakersfield, California.  Lorraine Bayless, 87 years young, was a resident at the facility.  Last Tuesday, Lorraine collapsed in dining room and was barely breathing.  While many elderly people have a do-not-resuscitate order on their charts, that was not the case for Lorraine.

Instead of trying to resuscitate the elderly woman, the nurse on duty called 9-1-1.  The dispatcher, Tracey Halvorson, instructed the nurse to perform CPR immediately.  However, the nurse informed Halvorson that the facility’s policy was not to perform CPR, just to call 9-1-1 for an emergency response.  Halvorson was completely flabbergasted and did her utmost to convince the nurse to take action before the resident died.  She even asked her to ask a non-staff person, a passerby, a gardener or anyone who would stop and perform CPR, but the nurse continued to say there was no one and that they couldn’t help her.

According to the 9-1-1 tapes, Halvorson told the nurse:

“It’s a human being.  Is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

The nurse responded:

“Um, not at this time.”

Halvorson continued to plead with the nurse, saying:

“I understand if your facility is not willing to do that.  Give the phone to that passerby, that stranger … this woman’s not breathing enough…. She’s going to die if we don’t get this started…. I don’t understand why you’re not willing to help this patient.”

Then you can hear the nurse talking to someone else at the facility saying:

“She’s yelling at me, and saying we have to have one of our residents perform CPR. I’m feeling stressed, and I’m not going to do that, make that call.”

A few minutes later, the nurse tells Halvorson that the ambulance has arrived and the call is ended.  Lorraine Bayless was pronounced dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital.

Glenwood Gardens executive director Jeffrey Toomer said the facility extended their condolences to Lorraine’s family while at the same time defending the actions of the nurse and staff on duty at the time.  He issued a statement that read:

“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.  That is the protocol we followed. As with any incident involving a resident, we will conduct a thorough internal review of this matter, but we have no further comments at this time.”

Why bother to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency like this if the staff are not going to follow the instructions of the dispatcher?  Who in their right mind would not render aid to anyone in trouble like this, especially a nurse at a senior facility who’s duty it is to look after their elderly residents?

No one can say if CPR would have saved Lorraine’s life or not.  But one thing is for certain; the staff did not follow the directions of the 9-1-1 dispatcher and failed to take any necessary emergency action to try to save her life.  The facility and the nurse need to be brought up on charges of criminal negligence that led to the death of Lorraine Bayless.

What’s the policy where your loved ones are living?  Do they have a similar policy that instructs their staff to just stand by and watch your loved ones die without attempting to do anything to save them?  If you don’t know, I urge you to find out as soon as possible before it’s too late.  I bet Lorraine’s family wish they would have known about the ‘let them die policy.’