Disturbing Death at Glenwood Gardens

We were shocked to hear about the death of 87-year- old Glenwood Gardens resident Lorraine Bayless, of Bakersfield, California.  Miss Lorraine died while a nurse had called 911.  The nurse would not administer CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

LTjg Ann Bernatitus, (NC), USN. Albert Murray,...
LTjg Ann Bernatitus, (NC), USN. Albert Murray, painter of numerous admirals and dignitaries, made this portrait of her at the Corcoran Gallery here in Washington in 1942. Bernatitus was stationed at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and several times she took the trolley or bus from Bethesda to the Corcoran to sit for Murray. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the agonizing crucial minutes the 911 operator, Tracey Halvorson, begged the nurse to give Miss Lorraine CPR or to at least find someone else who would.

We have learned it is not the policy of the Glenwood Gardens’ independent living community to administer CPR in emergencies.  Those residents of their nearby assisted living and skilled nursing facilities can receive CPR, however.

Granted, the facility clearly states CPR help is not included in the contract residents must sign before moving in.  Everyone is supposed to understand  that because it is all in writing.

Somehow 911 Operator Halvorson had not been given the memo and didn’t understand that.  Frankly, I don’t understand it either.

This story is very different from the many stories of people who have been saved right off sidewalks because someone knew CPR and cared enough to administer it.

A few years ago, I attended church with a man whose life was in fact saved in a grocery store when he collapsed from a heart attack.  CPR was given to him by a good Samaritan stranger and he lived to tell the tale.

That was a far cry from a situation many years ago, when my family was going out to eat on a Sunday afternoon when I was nine.  We arrived at a cafeteria in Nashville to find total chaos.

A man had just died while eating with his family.  I saw his body on the floor surrounded by  his teen aged daughters  who were crying uncontrollably.

I’ll never forget it and I can still describe the tiniest detail of the scene including what one of the girls was wearing.

My parents explained to me the cafeteria didn’t have oxygen for the man.  Maybe they could have saved him.  We’ll never know.

Things have improved a lot since that October Sunday in 1965, or have they?

I was particularly taken back by the nurse’s attitude during the call concerning Miss Lorraine.  She spent a lot of time explaining why she couldn’t help, and why she couldn’t get anyone else to help.  The clock was ticking-fast.

Our advice is to read the fine print very carefully before you sign for any facility.  Know what the nurses do and don’t do.  Think long and hard before you incorporate the do not resuscitate clause.  Keep in mind some facilities simply don’t provide CPR no matter how much a 911 Operator begs them to.  Their reasoning seems to be CPR is dangerous to give to an elderly person.

But what about the other choice of not giving CPR?  Isn’t that also dangerous?

If you aren’t satisfied with the policy of a  facility, try out the next one in the phone book.  There are plenty of them around.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta
Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

1 thought on “Disturbing Death at Glenwood Gardens”

  1. One of the first few things that come to mind is oh boy and wowsers. After sitting here for a bit collecting my thoughts on this and drinking some diet dr. pepper (yep my morning coffee) I am going to respond. In no way, shape or form do I intend or want people agreeing or disagreeing with my thoughts. They are my thoughts and that is that….
    I once worked in a retirement community where they had assisted living and independent living. Although in the same connecting buildings, there were different rules/policies to follow in regards to each group of individuals residing there. What we could do with the individuals in assisted living was greater than what we could do with those in the independent living. With that being said, if my memory serves me right, someone in independent living requiring medical attention would need to have a call to 911 placed. We were allowed to respond, place the call if needed for them and at the nurses discretion help could be given until the proper medical personnel arrived. We did not know code status on the independent living individuals only the assisted living. Hence, why they call it independent living. We did not provide medical services such as medication management, assistance with ADL’s etc… to those in independent living, only those in assisted living. Independent living individuals are still wanting and have the capabilities of living on their own, providing their own care and want to be viewed as still living in their own homes. Most of the people in independent living did have some housekeeping services and usually had their pick of how many meals were provided to them… Please keep in mind that this is the facility I worked at. I would imagine that most run the same, yet most probably have a little different policy and procedure. There are liability issues regarding independent vs. assisted living. I do not know all of these but since my curiosity is peaked now, my neighbor is a manager of one and I will ask her sometime.
    Right or wrong, policy is policy. The people and their families going into independent living are very well aware of these particular policies before they ever sign the contract. It may be one of those times in life when we choose to think…” It won’t happen to him/her/me.” Unfortunately as in the case in California it does and will continue. From what I am reading, the family is O.K. with everything. It is now society being the judge and jury.
    If we all look at our employer’s policy and procedures there is going to be something in there that we don’t necessarily agree with. I know where I work if someone is outside of the building and needing assistance, we are not to respond. Do we? Yes, we do. When there is a rapid response called there is no thought placed onto the location, only that someone needs help. According to policy this is wrong, if they are going to fire us for responding on that day, there will be many firings. When I am on rapid response for the day and hear a rapid response in the parking lot etc.. the first things that come to my mind are that it is a patient,their loved one or a co worker, how can I not respond. Truly I don’t think it really matters who it is because when there is a call for help, a sense from deep within tells me to respond. In that split second that it takes for me to respond, I know that my choice may lead to me being fired for not following policy and obviously since I respond, at some point I have accepted that.
    I have no opinion on whether the Nurse’s actions were right or wrong. Only she can figure that out. It truly is a situation where unless you are in it, judgment should not be placed. We all know what happens when policy is not followed. As nurses we want to help anyone that needs us, yet when we accept employment at a facility we are agreeing to abide by the facility policies and procedures. Obviously, the nurse was following policy and standing her ground. Is standing her ground and following policy the ultimate thing that is causing all the controversy? If so, then let’s not let it all weigh in on the nurses shoulders, let’s have some of the turmoil placed on these facilities and the rules that govern them. We do not know all the things surrounding the Nurse’s decision. Only she does, and she is the one that has to make peace with it. As a fellow nurse I can only imagine that she has not slept much. As Nurses we tend to think that we can always make the right choices and have false visions that we will always make things better. Everyone does not get well and go home. As new nurses we all have a lot to learn that only experience and time will give to us.
    A lesson I think that we can all learn from this is as follows….
    Only we know what we can handle and live with. So as many begin their journey of being the most amazing awesome RN’s possible, when accepting a job make sure that you can accept the policies that are being set in front of you. What can you accept and what can you not. Ultimately as Nurses we need to do a little soul searching to see where our line in the sand is drawn.
    Again, just my thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge