BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions remained Wednesday about whether a staffer at the Glenwood Gardens senior living facility in fact strayed from company policy when she refused to provide CPR to an elderly woman who later died.
Brookdale Senior Living, the Tennessee-based parent company of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, ignored requests to clarify a vague statement it issued Tuesday night saying "this incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents."
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The statement left unclear whether the nurse, other company employees or other parties -- such as the media -- misunderstood the rules.
The news release also said Brookdale is reviewing policies for emergency medical care at all of its communities. It did not indicate whether it has a standard company-wide policy on emergency medical care.
The Tuesday night statement was confounding because it conflicted with an earlier release from the facility that voiced support for the staff's response to the collapse of 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless.
As captured on a taped 911 call, a Bakersfield dispatcher on Feb. 26 begged a woman who described herself as a nurse at Glenwood to perform CPR on Bayless or find someone else who would.
Bayless died from a stroke on Feb. 26, according to her death certificate.
In a statement last week, Jeffrey Toomer, Glenwood Garden's executive director, said the facility's practice was to call for emergency medical aid "in the event of a health emergency at this independent living community" and "wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."
"That is the protocol we followed," Toomer said.
In a subsequent statement, Christopher Finn, regional director of operations in Southern California for the company, said that the employee involved in the incident was working as a "resident services director, not as a nurse."
Brookdale Senior Living said it was the largest U.S. company of its kind, boasting more than 600 communities in 36 states at the end of 2012, according to a report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company's Tuesday news release said the facility is conducting an internal investigation and that "the individual is on voluntary leave during the process."
Meanwhile, the Bakersfield Police Department announced Wednesday evening that it has concluded its investigation into Bayless' death and will not file criminal charges against any of the people involved.
A department news release said it determined that no criminal statutes had been violated in connection with the death.
A copy of Bayless' death certificate says her immediate cause of death was an "acute cerebrovascular accident," with an underlying cause of "cerebrovascular disease."
It indicates her death was reported to the coroner but that no autopsy was performed.
Kern County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ray Pruitt said Bayless' death did not fall into any of the categories of deaths that the coroner's section is mandated to investigate.
Some of the deaths the coroner's office is required to look into include unattended deaths, suicides, drownings, accidents and suspected homicides.
Pruitt said Bayless' physician was able to determine how she died and the manner of her death was ruled natural.
Bayless' body was not transported to the coroner's office but instead taken to a private mortuary at her family's request, Pruitt said.
The family has said that Bayless decided to live in a facility that didn't provide medical care and that it doesn't intend to sue.
The death certificate says Bayless had worked as a secretary. Tobacco abuse was listed as the only other significant condition contributing to her death.