OK Senior Living Communities Set Own Medical Assistance Policies

Monday, March 4th 2013, 6:54 pm
By: News 9

Controversy surrounds a California senior living facility after a resident was refused medical aid and died. A nurse there called 911, but refused to perform CPR.

The story is gaining a lot of attention across the country and right here in Oklahoma.

The director at the facility in Bakersfield, California, is defending the nurse, saying she followed policy, even though a 911 dispatcher was pleading with her to perform CPR. An 87-year-old woman had collapsed and was barely breathing.

The 911 dispatcher told the nurse to start CPR, but the nurse refused, saying "Yeah, we can't do CPR at this facility."

The dispatcher replied, "Okay, then hand the phone to the passerby. If you can't do it, I need, hand it to the passerby, I'll have her do it. Or if you've got any citizens there, I'll have them do it."

Again, the nurse refused.

The dispatcher went on to say, "Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone, please. This woman's not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started. Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

The nurse replied, "Um, not at this time."

By the time paramedics arrived, it was too late.

Policies on medical assistance vary by state. It's an important story for anyone who has a loved one in a senior living community.

Jim McWhirter owns Wellington Parke in Oklahoma City, an independent and assisted living community for seniors.

"It was startling and kind of a wake-up call," McWhirter said.

In Oklahoma, independent senior living facilities decide and are required to show their own policy when it comes to emergency medical assistance.

"Every facility sets their policies," said McWhirter. "Independent living is a little different than assisted living, and our policy here is to help people in need. The only thing we have to watch out for is if they have a DNR."

The state department of health regulates all assisted living and nursing homes in Oklahoma.

Those in the industry say it's important if you choose an independent living facility for a loved one, it's critical to ask about their individual policy.

Police in California are still investigating whether there was any criminal wrongdoing at that facility.