Broken elevator hinders seniors in Superior buildingA broken elevator in a six-story apartment building for seniors and disabled people has upset the lives of the Superior residents who were left virtually trapped on the floor in which they live.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
A broken elevator in a six-story apartment building for seniors and disabled people has upset the lives of the Superior residents who were left virtually trapped on the floor in which they live.
The elevator went out Saturday at Regina Hill at 2415 E. 5th St. Management has said a fix in the hydraulic system could take as long as eight weeks.
That news has many residents wondering how they will get out of the building for basics such as groceries and medical appointments, let alone the social aspects of the residence — card parties and visiting.
Gail Saari said she “grumbled” so much about the situation that she finally got some details from management about the elevator problem, and a plan has been hatched to move her 85-year-old mother to the first floor.
“Six weeks — that’s into December,” Saari said. “That’s a long time, and it’s not easy using those stairs.”
This week, more-mobile residents have volunteered to run errands for others or to offer help with the stairs.
On Thursday, management at the property received word that it would be getting a “stair chair” device to assist people. It looks similar to a wheelchair but has mechanics that allow it take people up and down stairs with helpers.
Lisa Knutson, regional manager for Bachand Estates, the owner of Regina Hill, said “our hands are tied” when it comes to the repair timeline. She said it will take two weeks just to get the part required for the fix. It has to be manufactured.
“We are at the elevator company’s mercy,” she said.
Knutson said there was no warning about the elevator failure. She said the complex hasn’t had an elevator breakdown before, and it is regularly checked by manufacturer Otis Elevator Co. She said calls were made to other companies to see if a faster fix could be made, but six to eight weeks was the general estimate from all of them.
Regina Hill was built in 1978, before subsidized housing requirements called for two elevators in high-rise buildings, Knutson said. Studies have been done on the possibility of adding an elevator to the building, she said, but engineers have said there is no place to do it.
Saari said she’s puzzled that Regina Hill doesn’t have an emergency plan. She said her mother and others have been stressed out this week as information trickled in on what life would be like without the elevator.
She stopped talking to her mother about the situation so she wouldn’t continue to fret, she said.
A better response would have helped seniors deal with the situation, Saari said.
“Some people there don’t have other family members fighting for them,” she said.
Saari said she’s less worried and more resigned now that there is better communication and a system in place for residents to get help.
But the original response was confusing for residents, she said.
“There is no emergency plan,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to wait for an emergency. There should be a policy.”
Property managers are checking on residents each day to see if they need anything, Knutson said. Some residents could be moved to other properties temporarily or moved to the lower level.
Bachand Estates also owns the Lund Hill Estates senior housing building. The company is owned by Adam and Corey Bachand.
Signs were posted on the elevator earlier this week telling residents that if they needed to leave the building, they could set up an appointment with the fire department for help with the stairs.
The Superior Fire Department is aware of the elevator problem and has changed how it will respond to calls from Regina Hill, Battalion Chief Steve Edwards said. Two engine companies will respond to medical calls there instead of one, so there are enough responders to lift people up and down stairs.
Saari said her mother won’t be moved until sometime over the weekend. She’ll be moving into a unit without a handicapped-accessible bathroom, she said.
It’s just one more adjustment her mother will have to make, she said, but at least she will be able to make her appointments and play cards.
“There’s so many things that this affects,” Saari said.