Visitors to Glenwood Gardens said they were withholding judgment Sunday on reports that a nurse there refused a 911 dispatcher's pleas last week to perform CPR on a woman who had fallen unconscious and later died.
People driving in and out of Glenwood Sunday afternoon insisted that the center provides quality care, though some were divided over whether staff did the right thing in this case.
"It did bother me," said Vittoria Mills, a Bakersfield nurse whose grandmother lives at Glenwood. "But I don't know. Maybe she had a (do not resuscitate order)."
"I would think that, as a nurse, I would be obligated to" perform CPR under such circumstances, Mills added.
Many questions went unanswered Sunday, five days after a 911 dispatcher tried over the phone to persuade a Glenwood nurse to perform CPR -- or find someone who would -- on a woman KGET Channel 17 identified as 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless.
In a seven-minute audio recording posted on KGET's website, the dispatcher asked the nurse whether anyone was present "that's willing to help this lady and not let her die." The nurse's reply: "Um, not at this time."
The nurse went on to say that it was against the facility's policy for staff to perform CPR on the woman, who KGET reported had collapsed in a Glenwood dining room.
The center's executive director, Jeffrey Toomer, did not return a message left at his office Sunday. But the center did issue a written statement reiterating its "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the woman's family, and said it was "conducting a thorough review of this matter."
Several people with relatives at the Bakersfield retirement center and nursing home speculated that the woman may have been living under a "do not resuscitate" order that would have barred medical professionals from using CPR on her.
"I just don't think we know the whole story," said Ginnie Soelberg, whose 79-year-old mother lives at the facility along Calloway Drive.
Porterville resident Barbara Buckton, who said her 92-year-old mother has lived at Glenwood for four years, said care at the facility is "superb."
"I feel if it had been my mother that it was handled properly," said Buckton, adding that she believed her mother was under a "do not resuscitate" order.
A few visitors to the center Sunday declined to talk about the 911 call recording but did speak up about Glenwood's service.
"So far it's been very positive," said Bakersfield resident Mike Leak, whose 92-year-old father has lived at the center since April.
A Glenwood resident who identified himself only as George said residents and staff are not supposed to administer CPR, much less try to lift up someone in distress.
"You call 911" and ask for emergency responders to assist the person, he said.
Do not resuscitate, or DNR, orders are written by medical care providers based on requests made by patients or their health care power of attorney.
These orders typically are targeted at CPR or intubation procedures; they do not stop patients from receiving other forms of care, such as antibiotics.