Elevator broken for months at 7-story assisted living facility - WSMV News 4

Elevator broken for months at 7-story assisted living facility

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GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) -

Elevators are essential to assisted living or nursing facilities, especially those with several levels.

So when the Channel 4 I-Team found one home for seniors with a broken elevator, we went to the state to see what can be done about it.

The answer has one advocate for the elderly outraged.

One woman came to the I-Team after she said the way the law is currently written is putting her own mother at risk.

A Gallatin woman invited the I-Team's hidden camera inside her 79-year-old mother's seven-story building. Her elderly mother lives on one of the top floors at The Manor, an assisted living facility.

Her mother has difficulty walking, so an out of order sign on the elevator is more than just an inconvenience. Especially when the other elevator is also not working, which she said has happened many times before.

“I'm concerned not only about my mother who lives there but I’m also concerned about all the other senior citizens,” the woman said.

An I-Team investigation found that despite the fact that older residents across the state rely on elevators, the state can do nothing about an elevator unless it's actually working.

“As far as state law goes, there's nothing that the state can do to make sure that they are in operation,” said Chris Cannon with the Tennessee Department of Labor.

“I want better living conditions for her,” the Gallatin woman said.

She asked us not to identify her fearing her mother would face retaliation. She said one of the elevators hasn’t worked ever since she moved her mother into The Manor almost four months ago.

The elevator was working on the day the I-Team was there.

If an elevator is working and has mechanical problems, then the state can force the facility to fix it. But if it's shut down and not operating at all, then the state can do nothing. In fact, there's no city or state regulation that a building with several floors even has a working elevator.

"It only requires that if the elevator is operating that it's safe to operate,” Cannon said.

That’s why the Department of Labor says they can't force management at The Manor to fix it or any elevators across the state.

It’s disturbing news to Grace Smith, who works with the Council on Aging, an advocacy group for seniors in Middle Tennessee.

“I would hope that any facility that is a residence for older adults would very quickly move to correct an elevator problem in their facility,” Smith said.

Smith said stairs can be dangerous for someone who's older, especially if they fall.

So the I-Team went straight to the manager of The Manor, Katlyn Clifton, and got an apology for the residents who live there and their loved ones.

"There's nobody that wants this fixed me than I do. The one that is down the part that we need actually has to be handmade, and so that has caused a bit of a time gap,” Clifton said.

Clifton said the parts to fix the broken elevator are on order and that, to her knowledge, the second elevator has only not worked at the same time on one other occasion.

In the meantime, people like Smith said this problem goes much deeper than just inside this one building.

“I do think you may have highlighted an area where there is not enough oversight to ensure those safety standards are in place,” Smith said.

Regardless of law, the fire inspector for the city of Gallatin said he has given management at The Manor 15 days to fix that elevator. That happened just days after the I-Team got involved.

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