BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An elderly woman died last Tuesday after a nurse at her Bakersfield retirement home refused to give her CPR.
According to the recorded 911 call, a staff nurse called to report that an 87-year-old woman living at Glenwood Gardens retirement home had collapsed in the dining room with breathing problems.
Listen to the full, uncut 911 call >>
The nurse told the 911 dispatch operator, Tracey Halvorson, that the elderly woman, Lorraine Bayless, was only taking about one breath every 15 seconds.
During the call, the nurse refused Halvorson's clear directions to perform CPR, saying that the retirement home doesn't allow such procedures on its residents.
"Can anyone there do CPR? Give them the phone please … I understand if your facility is not willing," Halvorson said during the recorded call. "But give the phone to the stranger. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don't get this started."
"I understand," the nurse replied. "I am a nurse, but I can not have our other senior citizens who don't know CPR (interrupted)."
The Kern County Fire Department confirmed the name of the dispatcher. Eyewitness News obtained a Bakersfield Fire Department incident report with Bayless' name. Eyewitness News has not been given the name of the Glenwood Gardens nurse.
The operator on the 911 call was a long-time Kern County Fire Department dispatcher.
"She followed the protocols right up to the point where she could no longer follow protocols, because there was nowhere to go," Deputy Chief Michael Miller told Eyewitness News on Monday.
The city fire department incident report also states that emergency workers found no do-not-resuscitate order, or DNR, for Bayless.
Almost 10 minutes after the call was placed, an ambulance arrived at Glenwood Gardens. Paramedics took Bayless to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Monday, police Sgt. Jason Matson said officers are investigating the situation but haven't found any evidence of criminal misconduct or criminal culpability in their preliminary investigation.
The AP reported that Glenwood Gardens' executive director Jeffrey Toomer defended the nurse.
"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, according to the AP. "That is the protocol we followed."
Glenwood Gardens has three different types of facilities at the site. There's independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Skilled nursing is under the oversight of the state Department of Licensing and Certification. Assisted living falls under the state Office of Social Services, according to spokesman Michael Weston. He said no office has jurisdiction over independent living facilities for seniors.
The only written state Toomer provided to Eyewitness News was: "We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the individual’s family on the passing of their loved one. We are currently conducting a thorough review of this matter."
Deputy fire chief Miller said he understands why there are so many questions about the incident.
"I don't think anybody out there doesn't have some emotional response to this call," he said. "It's frustrating."