COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A 911 dispatcher pleaded with a nurse at a Bakersfield, Calif., senior living facility to save the life of an elderly woman by giving her CPR, but the nurse refused, citing company policy. KRDO NewsChannel 13 is looking into emergency CPR policies for nursing homes, assisted living and independent living communities in the state of Colorado.
Arlene Miles, President and CEO of the Colorado Health Care Association, told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that there are key differences between nursing homes and independent living facilities.
"Nursing facility care is regulated at a much higher level than other living environments," Miles said.
"If it's in a nursing facility, if the resident has a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, then CPR would not be given. If they do not have a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, then CPR would be done."
As for independent living communities and assisted living communities, Miles said it can vary by the facility. It is up to citizens to ask important questions when selecting the right community for their loved one.
"What happens if they need CPR? Do they call 911? Do they wait until 911 comes? Do you have CPR certified staff here? Those are questions (to ask), and I really encourage people to have a very involved dialogue," Miles said.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted four different independent living communities in Colorado Springs but none of them would speak on camera regarding their policy.
Holiday Retirement owns five independent senior living communities in Colorado, including Sunridge in Colorado Springs and Pueblo Regent in Pueblo.
Holiday Retirement sent KRDO NewsChannel 13 the following written statement regarding their policy:
"Given that we are an independent living community and do not provide medical services, our emergency policies are aligned with most public facilities (e.g. shopping center, movie theater), which is to call 9-1-1. Our associates then follow directions to the level they may individually feel comfortable or capable. There is nothing in our policy that prevents employees from following directions of emergency services personnel."
At the senior living facility in Bakersfield, the elderly woman later died at the hospital. The facility, Glenwood Gardens, defended its nurse, saying she had followed policy.
The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, said in a written statement:
"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. 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.