Action should have been taken to save woman's life

Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM.

There must be a special place in hell reserved for those who, bound by senseless regulations and lack of compassion — antitheses of the Golden Rule — fail to come to the aid (especially those trained to do so) of a fellow human being. A cool drink of water to sooth one’s burning throat will eternally be just out of reach and all will pass by ignoring the incessant plea for just a short sip from the cup.

Last month, 87-year old Lorraine Bayless collapsed, apparently from cardiac arrest, in a dining room at an assisted living facility called Glenwood Gardens. A staff nurse refused to offer CPR or, allegedly, allow anyone else to do so. She referred to company regulations prohibiting the application of CPR to residents of their facility.

Glenwood Gardens is both an independent and ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY for God’s sake. If providing CPR is not "assisting in living," then what is?

The 9-1-1 call was released shortly after the tragic event. "She’s going to die if we don’t get this (CPR) started, do you understand?" the dispatcher pleaded.

The unnamed staff nurse dispassionately and without an apparent shred of concern for Bayless (at least in her voice), refused to offer aid, preferring to wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Bayless’ family later confirmed that a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order was not on file at Glenwood Gardens. Possibly the nurse would have been correct to not render aid if Bayless had a DNR. According to news reports, the family also has indicated they were satisfied with her care at Glenwood.

I don’t claim to know anything about Bayless or her family. Nor do I know anything about the legal and procedural issues associated with offering CPR to residents of the largest operator of retirement communities and assisted living facilities in the United States, Brookdale Senior Living of Brentwood, Tenn., and the parent organization of Glenwood Gardens.

Yes, death is as much a part of life as is birth. And yes, elderly members of our society with their more brittle bones can be injured during CPR — especially with untrained rescuers — even though the 9-1-1 dispatcher pleaded for someone, anyone, who would be willing to help and be talked through the CPR process. "Is there anyone willing to help this lady and not let her die," the exasperated dispatcher asked during the 9-1-1 call. Even though the 9-1-1 dispatcher confirmed they would take legal responsibility, no action was taken to save Bayless’ life.

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