An elevator repair company demanded that untrained John Peter Smith Hospital employees stop making repairs or resetting elevators themselves a week before a nurse was critically injured in an elevator accident.
The company, thyssenkrupp elevator, sent a letter to a hospital official on Jan. 11, warning that the hospital employees are not qualified to work on the elevators and that ”untrained individuals can put the safety of these maintenance personnel and the riding public at risk.”
The letter was released by thyssenkrupp Thursday afternoon.
JPS released a letter, sent back to thyssenkrupp in response, on Thursday evening.
"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," the letter from JPS to thyssenkrupp read.
"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," the letter continued.
In closing, JPS President and CEO Robert Earley added "When we shut down an elevator because of an entrapment it’s not a repair, it’s an urgent response to save lives."
Nine days after the inital letter from TKE, on Jan. 20, nurse Carrol Stratford was crushed and suffered brain damage and internal injuries when the elevator failed to stop and she was dragged between the 10th and 11th floors, hospital officials said.
JPS Chief Executive Officer Robert Earley faulted the elevator company for not doing its job.
In a letter to thyssenkrupp after the accident, Earley wrote, “JPS deserves better. Our patients and team members deserve better.”
In its earlier letter to the hospital, the company warned about the consequences of hospital employees making repairs themselves.
“We must also remind you that JPS Main Hospital will remain 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,” the letter said.
Stratford spent weeks in intensive care but her attorney said Wednesday that she is now out of a coma and mouthed the words "I love you" to family members.