Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room of the retirement home at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, California, which offers different levels of care. She lived in an independent living building, which state officials said is like an apartment complex and doesn’t operate under licensing oversight.
On February 26, an unidentified woman rang the emergency services from a mobile phone to ask for paramedics to be sent to help an unconscious resident. Later, a woman who identified herself as the nurse took the phone and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson that she was not permitted to do Cardio-Pulmonary Resucitation (CPR) on Mrs Bayless.
Ms Halvorson urged the nurse to start CPR, warning that the patient could die if they did not follow her instructions.
“I understand if your boss is telling you, you can’t do it,” the dispatcher said. “But … as a human being … you know, is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”
“Not at this time,” the nurse answered.
The 911 dispatcher assured the nurse that the nursing home could not be sued if anything went wrong in attempts to resuscitate the resident, saying the local emergency medical system “takes the liability for this call.”
As she became increasingly desperate, Ms Halvorson asked, “Is there a gardener? Any staff, anyone who doesn’t work for you? Anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady? Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her.
“Give the phone to a passer-by. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started, do you understand?”
The woman had no pulse and was not breathing when fire crews reached her, it was reported.
Sgt Jason Matson of the Bakersfield Police Department said its investigation so far had not revealed criminal wrongdoing, but the probe is continuing.
The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse in a written statement, saying she followed the facility’s policy.