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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A central California retirement home is defending one of its nurses who refused pleas by a 911 operator to perform CPR on an elderly woman who later died, saying the nurse was following policy.

“Is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die,” dispatcher Tracey Halvorson says on a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department aired by several media outlets on Sunday.

“Not at this time,” said the nurse, who didn’t give her full name and said facility policy prevented her from giving the woman medical help.

At the beginning of the Tuesday morning call, the nurse asked for paramedics to come and help the 87-year-old woman who had collapsed in the home’s dining room and was barely breathing.

Halvorson pleads for the nurse to perform CPR, and after several refusals she starts pleading for her to find a resident, or a gardener, or anyone not employed by the home to get on the phone, take her instructions and help the woman.

“Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady?” Halvorson says on the call. “Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her.”

The woman was later declared dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital, officials said.

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse’s actions, saying she did indeed follow policy.

“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,” Toomer said in a written statement. “That is the protocol we followed.”

Toomer offered condolences to the woman’s family and said a “thorough internal review” of the incident would be conducted.

He told KGET-TV that residents of the home’s independent living community are informed of the policy and agree to it when they move in. He said the policy does not apply at the adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

A call to the facility by The Associated Press seeking more information was not immediately returned.

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2 thoughts on “Calif. Woman Dies After Nurse Refuses to do CPR

  1. Serpentine on said:

    How horrible! A MEDICAL NURSE refusing to assist in the aid to help a woman survive. “The policy is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives.” Medical personnel? She is medical personnel. She’s a damn NURSE, not the gardener. What if the person was bleeding? Would the nurse refuse to put something on the wound, to stop the bleeding? Is that the practice they are speaking of? As a nurse, what is her role? To provide what? What is her purpose for even being there if not to assist in the aid of anothers? What about the Nightingale Pledge? Apparently, some nurses do not believe in that anymore. A nurses loyalty should be to protect the patient. Just as some physicians should believe in the hippocratic oath. I can’t believe this so-called nurse allowed another human being to die because she refused to perform the basic procedures that a HS kid knows how to do, in order to save a life. She followed policy over ethics and principles as a nurse. How sad. Had she been fired for performing CPR on the woman, in the end she would have made out better for it. The country would have jumped on the band wagon in her defense. We as human beings just don’t sit around and watch another human being die, all in the name of policy. If I could fire her, she would be standing in the unemployment line today! Too pissed at this story!

    • SCTravelRN on said:


      As a veteran RN, I certainly agree with the sentiments you have expressed. And although I suspect there is more to the story than we yet know, the Nurse’s ethical duty to this unfortunate lady far exceeds the “company policy”.

      I would like to know in what capacity this “nurse” is employed at this independant living facility (ILF), because the residents would have no foreseeable need for the services of a licensed medical professional. Neither would there logically be a need for a disclaimer that states in the event of a (medical) emergency, the “nurse’s” duty is to merely wait with the individual until help arrives. The “nurse” IS the help. Any licensed Nurse is not only capable and qualified of rendering CPR, but when presenting ourselves as such, we are obligated by the Professional Nurse Practice Act to do so.

      My condolences to the family.

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