Local senior facilities CPR policies - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Local senior facilities CPR policies

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A senior care professional at Elmcroft Senior Living assists a resident on Tuesday. (abc3340.com) A senior care professional at Elmcroft Senior Living assists a resident on Tuesday. (abc3340.com)

What happened at a retirement home in California has the country talking.

A nurse refused to perform CPR on an elderly woman because doing so violated the facility's rules. Turns out, those rules are dictated by the kind of facility in which a person lives.

In Alabama, independent living facilities are not required to have a CPR-trained person on staff. Unlike assisted living facilities and nursing homes, where some residents have dementia, Alzheimer's and other illnesses, independent living facilities are not considered medical facilities.

Senior care professionals, like Jenne Neighbors, say it's important for families to realize the difference during the process of choosing a home.

"Understand all of the policies and everything that deal with DNR's, living wills, all those types of things. A lot of people don't have any idea about what they are," Neighbors says.

Neighbors is a coordinator for Elmcroft Senior Living in Birmingham. The facility is a part of a company that owns several independent and assisted living centers across the country. Neighbors says CPR-trained staff are inside at all facilities, at all times. In the case of an emergency, nurses call 911 and initiate CPR on the resident, if that resident does not have a "Do not Resuscitate," or DNR, order in place. A DNR is a legal document the family of a  resident signs that asks that the person does not receive CPR in an emergency.

Frank Holden, president of the Assisted Living Association of Alabama, says health professionals must respect the family's wishes.

"Any licensed healthcare provider would not be at liberty to make a judgment in that," Holden says.

Holden says he is not aware of a local incident at an independent living facility that would be similar to the one in California. However, he says the state's nursing board governs nurses while the state's health department governs some senior facilities. So, the possibility of it happening is not completely out of the question.

"In theory, the possibility could exist that the policies would not match up precisely," Holden says.

Genell Lee, the executive officer of the Alabama Board of Nursing, which oversees the licensing for nurses in the senior facilities, says the state had one case about five years ago where a nurse refused to perform CPR in a nursing home. Lee says the nurse discovered the resident wasn't breathing and had no pulse. Once the board found that out, in its investigation, it did not proceed with disciplinary action against that nurse.

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