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Glenwood Gardens: the Old Age Home from Hell!

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Just when Americans think that we are un-shockable, we are truly shocked by the callous, abusive neglect of a resident in desperate need at the Glenwood Gardens old age home in Bakersfield, California.  The chilling seven-minute 911 call, in which the staff of this Old Age Home from Hell refuse to give any aid to 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless, has been played and replayed in all the news media.  We hear 911 Emergency Dispatcher Tracey Halvorson pleading that a "nurse" at this so-called (by its director Jeffrey Toomer) "independent living facility" either administer CPR to a resident who is not breathing, or at least find someone who can be instructed to do so.  The unidentified "nurse" does neither -- because it is not the policy at Glenwood Gardens to try to resuscitate residents, even if they have not authorized that gross lack of proper care.  When asked if this Old Age Home from Hell will do anything to try to save Lorraine from dying, the "nurse" says, on that now-infamous 911 call: "not at this time" , thus sentencing Lorraine Bayless to death by gross neglect.

When I owned and operated a comparable community care home in Vermont for some years, such misbehavior by anyone on our staff would have been unthinkable.  Had any nurse on my staff behaved in this callous and cruel manner, I would have sought the termination of that person's nursing license.  Glenwood Gardens director Toomer later stated that his facility was an "independent living community" which did not provide medical care.  Apparently, Glenwood Gardens also does not provide common decency, or even common humanity, so that the facility is actually an "independent dying community."  Further, the parent website for this operation refers to "assisted living facilities" -- a higher level of care is needed and required than for independent living.

But then, the inhumane so-called policy at Glenwood Gardens is consistent with the one-star (lowest) rating of its parent corporation, Brookdale Senior Living based in Brentwood, Tennessee, the nation's largest purveyor of senior facilities.  A typical comment on websites which rate such operations is that they would get an even lower rating if one were possible.  Here is one typical review of a Brookdale facility, from
  Memory care unit managers and associates were outside smoking every hour for 20 minutes. Leaving only one care provider many times working with 27 end stage residents. Documented and reported daily episodes of neglect and abuse to Director and was bullied by Director for reporting. Ended up having to report neglect and abuse to HR and things started to be watched. Residents were denied food and fluids everyday and it made me sick to watch residents be treated so poorly.

It is actually not surprising that Brookdale Senior Living gets such poor ratings; its CEO, Andrew Smith, is -- would you believe -- an attorney with little if any medical background.  The other key executives are not much better.  Ironically, the co-called CORNERSTONES of Brookdale's essential policies include these statements: "Take ownership and pride in everything we do. Put the resident first, and the bottom line will take care of itself.  Have fun and celebrate life every day."  Dr. Kevin O'Neil, Brookdale's Medical Director, is quoted on their webite: "Our people make the difference."  They sure do that, Dr. O'Neil -- they violate the trust of your residents, and let them die without even trying to save them.

Lorraine Bayless might be "having fun and celebrating life" today, had any Glenwood Gardens staff lifted a finger to try to save her. These staff even rejected 911 Dispatcher Halvorson's demand that they find someone such as a guest or passerby to begin CPR at once, and Ms. Halvorson would instruct that person in the procedure, as they must often do. Every single Brookdale Senior Living facility absolutely needs to be thoroughly investigated by each state in which they operate.

The proper remedy for such profound misconduct would be a charge of negligent homicide against everyone involved in this blatant neglect, which rises to the level of elder abuse -- including those at the corporate level who established such atrocious policies, not only at Glenwood Gardens but undoubtedly at their other comparable facilities as well.  Should the staff involved in formulating and enforcing these policies, such as Glenwood's Director Toomer, lose their jobs as a result of the thorough investigation which is supposedly now taking place, there are some openings for concentration camp staff in North Korea for which they might consider applying.  A position of that sort would seem to be much better suited for them -- if they manage to avoid going to prison for the negligent homicide of Lorraine Bayless.

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Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)

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