Woman Dies After Nurse Refuses to Perform CPR

An elderly woman died after being refused CPR by a registered nurse at Glenwood Gardens retirement facility. Glenwood Gardens is defending the nurse's actions, stating that she followed protocol even though the resident died.

Lorraine Bayless, 87, collapsed at the Gardens and a nurse called 911 for help. She did not perform the recommended CPR, though, and spent seven minutes on the phone with Tracey Halvorson, a 911 operator. Meanwhile, Halvorson begged the nurse to begin CPR or find someone who could.

"Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?" Halvorson asked in the recording released by the Bakersfield Fire Department.

"Not at this time," the nurse said. She then explained that it was against policy to perform CPR on residents. The operator, however, pleaded with the nurse to get help from someone else or break protocol to save the woman's life.

"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," Halvorson said. "Anybody there can do CPR. I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to that passerby. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don't get this started."

Emergency personnel finally arrived and administered CPR, but Bayless was pronounced dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital. Glenwood Gardens is now in the position of defending itself, and its employee's actions, to the family and the public.

"In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives. That is the protocol we follow," executive director Jeffrey Toomer told USA Today in a written statement.

After offering his condolences to Bayless' family, Toomer added that there would be a "thorough internal review" of the incident.