NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last week, when an 87-year-old woman collapsed at the Glenwood Gardens independent living facility in Bakersfield, California, staff and even an on-duty nurse called 911, but that's where they drew the line.
Here is a brief transcript of part of the call:
(Operator) "Are we going to let this lady die?"
(Nurse) "Well, that's why we're calling 911."
(Operator) "We can't wait. She can't wait right now."
(Operator) "We need to get CPR started. That's not enough. Ok?"
(Nurse) "Yeah, we can't do CPR."
(Operator) "Ok then hand the phone to the passerby if you can't do it. Hand it to the passerby have her do it or if you've got any citizens there I'll have them..."
(Nurse) "No… No."
(Operator) "Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone please. This woman is not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started."
(Operator) "Is there a gardener or any staff that doesn't work for you anywhere? Can we flag somebody down in the street? And get them to help this lady?"
After the seven minute call an ambulance finally arrived, but the woman later died at a hospital. Monday, Bakersfield Police announced they are investigating whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.
Glenwood Gardens is owned by Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living. No one there returned our calls Monday. Brookdale is also reportedly conducting its own investigation.
In reported statements the California facility's director told CBS they don't provide medical care, saying their policy is to call 911 and wait with a patient until help arrives.
Glenwood Gardens is an independent living facility, which is basically a senior apartment complex. In Tennessee, they are not regulated, according to a state Department of Health spokesperson. That means a similar incident could happen here.
The act restricts those facilities from creating policies that deny giving care to all residents. Instead it allows individual residents or a family member to decide if they should be resuscitated. Staff in those facilities is not required to know how to administer CPR, but are trained on how to call other trained personnel.
That's why State Director of AARP Tennessee, Rebecca Kelly, says knowing the difference between facilities, visiting them and reviewing survey reports is so crucial before a loved one ever moves into one.
"It's so important that individuals and consumers and families do their homework," she said. "There's a pretty big variety in what those policies look like and what facilities may be willing to do and able to do and others may chose not to."
That's why she says it's important to do your research now before you learn what a facility will or won't do during a crisis.