PD Editorial: Our social compact hits a new low

  • Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
    People wait in their vehicles to be allowed through the security gates at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield on Sunday. Some people entering and leaving said it was unusual to have that type of security. Some also have questions concerning what went on at Glenwood Gardens when a Bakersfield Fire Department dispatcher was not able to get staff at the retirement center and nursing home to give CPR to an unconscious elderly woman.

Not at this time?

It seems to us that this is a sad time indeed when a trained nurse won't step up and provide CPR for an 87-year-old woman who has collapsed and is struggling to breathe.

This is what occurred at a Bakersfield retirement center on Feb. 26 as documented in a recently released 911 transcript and tape recording that has gone viral on the Internet.

But what's most troubling is not that the nurse, who remains unidentified, refused to help the struggling woman. It's that she was prevented from doing so.

The executive director of the Glenwood Gardens retirement complex in Bakersfield on Monday defended the nurse's inaction, saying that she was following company policy.

"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," director Jeffrey Toomer said in a written statement. "That is the protocol we followed."

Which essentially was a protocol that ensured the woman's demise.

One imagines that such non-intervention policies are the brainchildren of lawyers and insurance companies who see the downside of individuals stepping up and trying to help someone in need. Good Samaritans can quickly become victims of lawsuits in cases such as these.

But that's hardly justification for a company requiring a trained nurse to stand on the sidelines holding the phone while someone in plain view suffers. Why did the facility not have its own emergency response team in line and have a defibrillator on hand?

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