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JPS partners with new elevator company after nurse was crushed at hospital

John Peter Smith Hospital has hired a new elevator maintenance company following the Jan. 20 accident where a nurse was crushed by a malfunctioning elevator in the hospital.

On March 15, officials at JPS terminated the hospital’s contract with Thyssenkrupp elevators.

The Tarrant County Hospital District Board of Managers has unanimously approved a five-year agreement with SW Elevators Inc. for maintenance on the 51 elevators operated by the JPS Health Network, according to an announcement Thursday from JPS.

“We are hopeful about building a relationship of trust and confidence with SW Elevators,” said Robert Earley, president and CEO of JPS Health Network, in the press release. “This is a family-run enterprise. The current CEO is third generation. And the only thing this company does is maintain and repair elevators.”

SW Elevators has agreed to provide two full-time mechanics to service the JPS contract. The company will take over maintenance activities from Thyssenkrupp on May 14.

On Jan. 20, Carren Stratford, a nurse in her mid-50s who had been with the hospital about 2.5 years, was getting onto an elevator in the hospital. The elevator did not stop moving up as Stratford stepped into it with her right foot. She lost her balance, the elevator continued to rise and she was crushed.

Stratford’s attorneys have said she’s expected to need long-term therapy and rehabilitation for her serious injuries. They said she suffered severe brain damage, internal injuries and has had multiple seizures and surgeries.

The elevators at JPS have been plagued with problems for several years, according to documents obtained by the Star-Telegram through an open records request.

A review of records found that people had been trapped in that elevator at least 13 times between March 2018 and January 2019.

In most of the cases, work orders say that the elevator was “reset.”

Thyssenkrupp sent hospital officials a cease-and-desist letter on Jan. 11, telling them to stop resetting the elevators themselves.

Additionally, hospital officials knew in 2017 that the elevator that crushed Sratford needed upgrades, according to a report reviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Instead, the hospital requested bids for work on two other elevators.

In a statement to the Star-Telegram in February, Thyssenkrupp Regional President Peter Engwer said: “Hospital staffers, while they may be well-meaning, are complicating efforts to repair elevators. When these staffers reset a stopped elevator, it erases the diagnostic record that is critical for our maintenance personnel to determine the root cause.”

JPS released a statement in response to the letter on Twitter that same evening that said: “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.”

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