Officials knew a Forth Worth hospital elevator was in need of upgrades two years before a nurse was crushed and seriously injured when the elevator continued to rise as she tried to step inside, a maintenance audit shows.
A report produced by Lerch Bates, an elevator consulting firm, examined the maintenance and upkeep of the elevators at John Peter Smith Hospital in April 2017, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Lerch Bates recommended the hospital make a full upgrade to elevator No. 29 by 2018, which included replacing door equipment, the machine that moves the elevator up and down and other electronic maintenance work. Instead of the elevator’s estimated $690,000 upgrade, the hospital requested bids for work on two other elevators.
Elevator No. 29 malfunctioned on Jan. 20, crushing Carren Stratford and causing her brain damage and internal injuries.
Hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe said officials chose not to immediately upgrade elevator No. 29 because it was used less frequently compared to the other two.
Jacob Erwin, a regional manager for Lerch Bates, didn’t directly state that the elevator would have been safer with the recommended upgrades. Erwin said the company recommended the upgrade because the elevator’s equipment was so out of date that the elevator would be out of service for a significant amount of time, should it fail.
The hospital has had chronic problems with its elevators, and administrators say they intend to hold the facility’s elevator contractor, Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp., accountable for the January accident. A spokesman for Thyssenkrupp told the Star-Telegram on Friday that the hospital has terminated its contract with the company, effective May 14.
At least 80 work orders were issued after people complained of being trapped in the hospital’s elevators from January 2018 to January of this year, according to a review of hospital and other records by the newspaper. Elevators were shut down more than 150 times over the same period, and elevator No. 29 was out of service at least eight times, the records show.
Thyssenkrupp has argued the hospital made problems worse by having hospital workers conduct repairs rather than the contractor.
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