Lorraine Bayless' death last week at Glendale Gardens, a Bakersfield independent living facility, (pictured R) prompted outrage after a 7-minute recording of the 911 call was released.
"It was a little painful to hear the transcripts," says Kristen Crandall, administrator of the Blocher Home, part of the Beechwood campus, who spoke on WBEN's Tom Bauerle program Wednesday morning. Crandall is also a trained nurse.
"As a nurse, I'm trained to provide basic life support when needed by anyone in the community, not just in a facility that I'm working at," she says.
Crandall noted she's not sure where the disconnect came for the California employee.
Brookdale Senior Living, which owns the facility, initially said its employee acted correctly by waiting until emergency personnel arrived. But late Tuesday, it issued a new statement saying the employee had misinterpreted the company's guidelines and was on voluntary leave while the case is investigated.
"This incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents," the Tennessee-based company said.
READ A TRANSCRIPT of THE 911 CALL
Here is a partial transcript of the 911 call from a senior living facility nurse - identified as Colleen - requesting help for an 87-year-old woman who was barely breathing.
Caller: I understand. I am a nurse. But I cannot have our other citizens, who don't know CPR, do it. We're in a dining room.
Dispatcher: I will instruct them. Is there anyone there?
Caller: I cannot do that.
Dispatcher: OK, is there anyone there who is willing to help this patient?
Caller: I am, but...
Dispatcher: OK great, then I'll walk you through it all. EMS takes the liability for this, Colleen. I'm happy to ... OK? This is EMS protocol. OK?
Caller: (To someone off the phone) I don't know where he is. She's yelling at me to have one of our other residents perform CPR. And I'm not gonna do that, and make that call.
Dispatcher: Colleen, is there anyone that works there that's willing to do it?
Caller: We can't do that.
Dispatcher: Are we just gonna let this lady die?
Caller: Well that's why we're calling 911.
Dispatcher: We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing. She can't wait for them to get there.
Caller: She's taken three breaths.
Dispatcher: It's not enough. We need to get CPR started.
Caller: (Chatter in background) He's saying we don't. You can talk to my boss, and I don't know what to say.
Dispatcher: OK. (To someone off phone.) They're refusing CPR, they're gonna let her die. By the facility, yeah.
Caller: When will the fire department be here? When will the ambulance ...
Dispatcher: They're coming. They've been on the way all this time but we can't wait. This lady's gonna die.
Dispatcher: OK, well then if you get anybody, any stranger that happens to walk by that's willing to help. I understand if your boss is telling you can't do it. But if there's any human being. ... Is there anyone that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?
Caller: Um, not at this time.
Dispatcher: (To someone off phone) They won't. They won't touch her at all. I can't get anyone to touch her at all.
Caller: We have residents that are ...
Dispatcher: Any guests? Any guests that are there that are willing to help?
Caller: No, I don't have any.
Dispatcher: Is there a gardener, any staff? Anybody 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 will help her. I'm pretty good at talking them into it. If you can flag a stranger down I will help. I will tell them how to help her.
Caller: (To someone off phone) She said not to move her. OK.
Dispatcher: Has anyone gone to look for a stranger?
Caller: They're here right now.
Meantime, shortly before Brookdale's clarification, Bayless' family sent The Associated Press a statement saying she was aware that Glenwood Gardens did not offer trained medical staff, but opted to live there anyway.
"It was our beloved mother and grandmother's wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention," the family said.
"We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace."
The family said it would not sue or try to profit from the death, and called it "a lesson we can all learn from."
"We regret that this private and most personal time has been escalated by the media," the statement said.
Bayless collapsed in the Glenwood Gardens dining hall on Feb. 26. Someone called 911 on a cellphone and asked for an ambulance. Later, a woman who identified herself as a nurse got on the line and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.
Halvorson implored the nurse to find someone else and said she would instruct them on how to do the procedure.
"I understand if your facility is not willing to do that," Halvorson said. "Give the phone to a passer-by. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don't get this started, do you understand?"
By the time paramedics arrived, Bayless had stopped breathing.
Bakersfield fire officials who responded said Bayless did not have a "do not resuscitate" order on file at the home. The family and the company have not commented.
Glenwood Gardens is an independent living facility and as such Brookdale has said that by law it is "not licensed to provide medical care to any of its residents."
But it added later that it was reviewing company policies "involving emergency medical care across all of our communities."
The woman who identified herself as a nurse was employed at the facility as a resident services director, the company said.
Bayless' death has prompted multiple investigations.
Bakersfield police are trying to determine whether a crime was committed when the nurse refused to help even find someone to perform 911.
The Kern County Aging and Adult Services Department is looking into possible elder abuse and the state Assembly's Aging and Long-term Care Committee is investigating to see whether legislation is needed.
The nation's largest trade group for senior living facilities has called for its members to review policies.
"It was a complete tragedy," said Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of the Assisted Living Federation of America. "Our members are now looking at their policies to make sure they are clear. Whether they have one to initiate (CPR) or not, they should be responsive to what the 911 person tells them to do."
The California Board of Registered Nursing is concerned that the woman who spoke to the 911 dispatcher did not even respond to requests to find someone who might want to help.
"If she's not engaged in the practice of nursing, there's no obligation (to help)," agency spokesman Russ Heimerich said. "What complicates this further is the idea that she wouldn't hand the phone over either. So that's why we want to look into it."