Nursing homes are a scary prospect to some. Allowing your dear relatives to be in the care of a facility, including many rotating employees whom you know nothing about, is a frightening idea. What if they are abusive? What if something happens and they’re unknowledgeable? What if they’re simply unpleasant? Fortunately, most nursing homes for the elderly are fantastic, filled with intelligent, qualified employees who enjoy their jobs and the people they care for. However, the case of a recent nursing home death in Bakersfield, California, will likely be raising questions regarding the emergency policies of many of these care facilities.
In the disturbing recording of a 911 call between fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson and an employee at the Glenwood Gardens nursing facility in Bakersfield, Halvorson is heard repeatedly pleading with the woman to perform CPR on a female resident who was barely breathing. Halvorson continuously tells the nurse that if she doesn’t do this, the woman will die. The nurse states that it is against Glenwood Gardens’ rules for staff to give CPR despite Halvorson’s repeated pleas insisting that the procedure can be started before emergency personnel arrive on the scene, as well as begging her to find somebody who doesn’t work for the facility so he or she could perform CPR instead. The nurse declined, and could be heard speaking to somebody else at the facility saying that Halvorson was making her feel stressed. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived and the tape ended. The woman died later at the hospital.
After controversy arose following the 911 call’s circulation, Glenwood Gardens released the following statement:
In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency personell for assistance and to wait with the individual until such personnel arrives.
While it makes sense to disallow employees from doing surgical procedures, performing CPR should not be against rules. When you are entrusting the life of a human being into the supervision and care of a facility with trained staff, there’s a certain expectation that the home and its employees will keep members as safe and cared for as possible. What about the Heimlich maneuver? What about anxiety or asthma attacks? What about responses to allergic reactions? There are certain helpful medical responses that any human being can do for another, all of which can be explained to them by an emergency dispatcher. Sadly, it may take this death for nursing home facilities to question these practices. But what do you readers think: was this tragedy preventable or should these rules stay in place?