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Calif. woman dies after nurse refuses to do CPR

Glenwood Gardens, a retirement home in Bakersfield, Calif., is like a senior apartment complex and doesn’t operate under licensing oversight, state officials said.
Glenwood Gardens, a retirement home in Bakersfield, Calif., is like a senior apartment complex and doesn’t operate under licensing oversight, state officials said.
Published Mar. 5, 2013

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A nurse's refusal to give CPR to a dying 87-year-old woman at a California independent-living home despite desperate pleas from a 911 dispatcher has prompted outrage and spawned a criminal investigation.

The harrowing 7-minute, 16-second call also raised concerns that policies at senior living facilities could prevent staff from intervening in medical emergencies. It prompted calls for legislation Monday to prevent a repeat of what happened Feb. 26 at the Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield.

Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room of the retirement home that offers many levels of care. She lived in the independent-living building, which state officials said is like a senior apartment complex and doesn't operate under licensing oversight.

"This is a wakeup call," said Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, chairwoman of the California Assembly Aging and Long-term Care Committee. "I'm sorry it took a tragedy like this to bring it to our attention."

Yamada cautioned that while it's not yet known whether intervention would have saved the woman's life, "we want to investigate because it has caused a lot of concern and alarm."

State officials didn't know Monday whether the woman who talked to the 911 dispatcher actually was a nurse, or just identified herself as one during the call. She said one of the home's policies prevented her from doing CPR.

The chief of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse in a statement, saying she followed the facility's policy.