Manitoba

St. Boniface Hospital's aging elevators leave people grounded

When a loved one is in the hospital the last thing you want is an aging elevator keeping you on ground floor.

While an elevator is being repaired, there are long lines to get to different floors

Around a month ago, there were a number of problems with the elevator, which was installed in 1954, so it was taken offline. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

When a loved one is in the hospital the last thing you want is an aging elevator keeping you on ground floor.

That's what Ruthie Yanchynski faced at St. Boniface Hospital when her mother was put on life support.

"We were told she had limited time to live. I was there every single day after that," Yanchynski said, adding her mother survived.

"The elevator just added to the frustration of that because I was waiting for it every single day, [during] some of the worst days of my life."

The hospital has a bank of main elevators at the main entrance and two are primarily used by visitors, according to Helene Vrignon, director of communications with the hospital.

Around a month ago, there were a number of problems with the elevator, which was installed in 1954, so it was taken offline. While testing the elevator, another problem was discovered, Vrignon said, and the part to fix it isn't easily found since the elevator is so dated.

"We thought it was safer to take it offline," she said. "Essentially we decided to close that elevator sent it off to get fixed and we are simply waiting for that part to come back."

The part is expected next week, she added. It will be installed and then the elevator will be tested, with the expectation that it will be back in service by the end of the week.

"We understand the wait times have gotten longer. It is frustrating. We are fully aware of that," Vrignon said.

People line up waiting for the elevator, which is expected to be down until the end of next week. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

Yanchynski said there are usually about 20 other people waiting with her on the ground floor, when she waits for the elevator to take her up to her mother.

"If you have a walker, oxygen tank or, God forbid, you can't walk, you're not getting a spot on the elevator," she said.

There are other elevators which are used for staff and patient transport. Yanchynski said it would be nice if they'd allow some visitors to use them during the repair period.

"You're already frustrated. Maybe you're losing somebody. You're already at the hospital. No one wants to be there," she said.

Vrignon said some of the patient elevators are available for visitors, but they are asked to step out when patients on stretchers are brought in. She said she understands the frustration but they would prefer to have the elevators closed than to have an accident.

"Be patient with us. We are an aging hospital," she said.

"We have some challenges with our elevators. We have a really good system where we regularly review and maintain and look at the issues that may cause problems down the road. And when the issues arise we take the steps we can to keep people safe."

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