A failed test of character

By | March 10, 2013 | Opinion

If you were presented with a life-or-death situation, would you drop every- thing to save the life of another?

Would you break any rules neces- sary to save that life, even if your job or professional reputation were at stake?

I want to believe that most people would sacrifice themselves for the sake of another, but a recent breaking news story in the Valley has dampened that hope.

Last week, 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless died at the feet of fellow residents and registered nurses at the Glenwood Gardens retirement home and assisted living center in Bakersfield.

After Bayless collapsed in the din- ing room, someone called 911 and asked for an ambulance.

Soon after, a woman who identified herself as a nurse (this was later con- firmed) spoke to dispatcher Tracey Halvorson, who had responded to the emergency call.

For those who have not heard the recorded 911 call, the “assisting” nurse’s attitude seemed disturbingly apathetic.

People from all corners of the United States are listening to the call on YouTube and news sites and have expressed frustration and disbelief at the nurse’s actions – or lack thereof.

Upon the dispatcher’s request to start CPR, the nurse refused to help the collapsed woman, fearing she would violate her employer’s policies.

Halvorson continued pleading, beg- ging the nurse to start CPR.

“I understand if your facility is not

McClatchy – Tribune

willing to do that,” Halvorson said. “Give the phone to a passerby. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started, do you understand?”

The nurse refused, again, to per- form CPR on the dying woman.

“I understand if your boss is telling you, you can’t do it,” the dispatcher said. “But . . . as a human being . . . you know, is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

“Not at this time,” the nurse replied. Halvorson continued: “Is there a gardener? Any staff,

anyone who doesn’t work for you? Anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady? Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her.”

Still, nobody came to the woman’s rescue.

By the time the paramedics reached Glenwood Gardens, Bayless had no pulse and was not breathing. She was dead.

This news story is now a national controversy and begs the question, “Are policies and rules more impor- tant than acting humanely in life-and- death situations?”

The answer to this question should be simple – no. Never should company rules and policy determine whether or not a human being lives.

What would that nurse have wanted for herself if put in Bayless’ situation? Here’s an even better question: How could a registered nurse, who sought a career in the medical field, stare at a dying woman and not help or sound

the least bit concerned? Some people are actually defend-

ing the nurse, stating that she was merely following the rules when, in

fact, the center’s policy did not pre- vent the nurse – or anybody else – from performing CPR on Bayless, accord- ing to Greg Crist, a senior vice presi- dent at the American Health Care Association.

Staff members are “required to per- form and provide CPR” unless the resi- dent specifically filed a “do-not-resus- citate” (DNR) order, Crist said.

So what excuse will the nurse hide behind, now? There is no defense for such actions.

No matter the circumstances, some- body should have jumped in before the 911 call and later at the request of the dispatcher.

Supporters of the nurse’s decision to refuse CPR are defending their stance by pointing out that Bayless’ daughter later told NBC that she was satisfied with the way the facility han- dled the situation.

Supporters are also saying that Bayless had indeed signed a DNR – this is not the case. Even if she had told her family she did not want to be resuscitated, it was not documented.

Glenwood Gardens’ only response to the incident suggested that the nurse was simply following company proto- col. That is, not performing CPR on a resident.

So what we have here is an entire building full of useless degrees and wasted expertise.

You would think that those who spe- cialize in the health and well-being of other people would have a little more compassion.

I am aware of the potential lawsuits and complications that can arise from such a case, but all of that should be considered irrelevant when the life of another human is at stake.

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2 Responses to A failed test of character

  1. MMH says:

    I cannot believe this has become a National controversy. I’ve been doing CPR Training for 20+ years, am a former EMT & have been dealing with my own family members’ end-of-life wishes & care directives for the past couple of years as some are aging. Some have entered assisted &/or independent senior living as this person did.
    DNR means DNR. This person had a do not resuscitate order. In this case, that is HER wish-nobody else has a say in the matter. Not the 911 operator, not the Nurse, not the Independent Living Home, nobody. Elder abuse did not take place; it might have taken place if CPR had been performed and Lorraine Bayless had lived. In cases like this, the wishes of the patient should be the only consideration. The Do Not Resuscitate order was approved & even co-signed by the daughter. The Nurse was following her wishes & proper procedure.
    Perhaps people should take a CPR course & learn a bit about what they are voicing an opinion on. A proper CPR Training Course would teach all this, including when to perform & when NOT to perform CPR.

    Teaching lifesaving, obviously, I think it is essential & everyone should know how to… but also know when to & when not to. Don’t mouth off with your opinions if you haven’t taken 2 hours out of your life to learn how to save another life.

    Everyone needs to know CPR-it is not expensive to learn. American CPR Training teaches group classes at your location-just 2.5 hours for Adult, Child & Infant CPR-anywhere in the USA!

    American CPR Training™ ½ the Time, ½ the Price, & TWICE the Fun!™

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