The staffer at a Brookdale-operated senior living community misinterpreted company policy when she refused to obey a 911 dispatcher’s requests to administer CPR to a resident who later died, Brookdale said in a statement on Tuesday.
Last week, Lorraine Bayless, an 87-year-old resident of the Glenwood Gardens community in Bakersfield, Calif., collapsed in the dining hall and later passed away after being denied CPR by a resident services director, who told the dispatcher it was against company policy.
The release of the 911 call unleashed a barrage of national media attention. The community’s executive director initially defended the staffer’s decision, pointing out that by law, independent living communities aren’t licensed to provide medical care to residents.
“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” executive director Jeffrey Toomer said in a statement, the AP reported. “That is the protocol we followed.”
However, the Tennesee-based senior living operator clarified its company policy in a statement released to the Associated Press on Tuesday.
“This incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents,” said the company.
The staffer is currently on voluntary leave while the case is being investigated.
In the wake of the incident, the Assisted Living Federation of America has been making the rounds to national media sources to talk about company policies regarding emergency medical care.
“It was a complete tragedy,” said Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of ALFA, to CBS. “Our members are now looking at their policies to make sure they are clear. Whether they have one to initiate (CPR) or not, they should be responsive to what the 911 person tells them to do.”
The deceased resident’s family has also issued a statement to the Associated Press saying it had no plans to sue or try to profit from the death.
“It was our beloved mother and grandmother’s wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention,” the family said. “We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace