FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The elevator company responsible for the elevators at John Peter Smith Hospital, ThyssenKrupp, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the trauma center just days before an accident that left a nurse critically injured.
That letter warned about the dangers of JPS maintenance workers making repairs or resetting the elevators themselves and urged them not to.
“An elevator is a complicated piece of equipment and, as such, elevator-related repairs performed by untrained individuals can put the safety of these maintenance personnel and the riding public at risk,” the letter states.
The elevator company reminded the hospital that they consider it “solely liable for any incident including personal injury or property damage (including damage to the elevator system itself) resulting from or related in any way to any work performed on these elevators by anyone other than a thyssenKrupp elevator technician and that thyssenKrupp elevator. Finally, should this practice continue, you will leave us no choice but to evaluate our options under the parties’ agreement and the law.”
JPS Health Network President and CEO Robert Earley responded with the following letter to thyssenKrupp:
We never repair elevators. We save lives. And we never jeopardize the health or safety of our patients, team members or visitors by forcing them to remain in elevators which are incapacitated by TKE’s failure to live up to its obligations. When every minute spent trapped in a broken elevator can be the difference between life and death, JPS team members will respond. What would you have us do, wait minutes, sometimes hours for TKE workers to show up? There is nothing in the contract JPS has with TKE that prevents us from responding appropriately when someone is trapped inside an elevator.
Properly functioning elevators are critical to the life-saving work we do, and even as you read this, we have elevators out of service. And we can’t, don’t and never have repaired elevators, because that’s what we’ve hired you to do.
When we shut down an elevator because of an entrapment it’s not a repair, it’s an urgent response to save lives. Can you say that the elevators you’ve put back into service are safe for patients, visitors, and my 6,700 team members?
Nurse Carren Stratford, 56, was crushed between the 10th and 11th floors by an elevator at JPS on January 20. She’s recovering, but still has a long way to go.
Stratford’s attorney Kern Lewis said on Wednesday, she was moved from ICU to a Step Down Unit where she will receive more therapy.
“She has limited communication availability but she is aware her family is next to her. They believe she will need lots of therapy to recover, but she is a fighter,” said Lewis.
Since the accident, Stratford has suffered brain damage, seizures, internal injuries and has undergone multiple surgeries.