TORONTO - The chairman of Ontario's Peel Region has apologized and promised a full investigation after an 87-year-old woman was trapped in an nursing home elevator for 29 hours on Christmas Eve.
Emil Kolb issued the statement Wednesday about the mishap at Malton Village Long Term Care Facility in Mississauga. Resident Rosalie Rowsell was trapped in the out-of-service elevator shortly after she returned from a family outing on Dec. 23.
Rowsell was last seen by a security guard around 8:30 p.m. that night. She was discovered by Peel Regional Police as they swept through the nursing home looking for her in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day.
Rowsell was treated in hospital for severe dehydration and released.
Kolb called the fiasco "an extremely serious failure."
"We sincerely regret that this gap in our duty resulted in endangering a resident and causing her family distress," he said.
Kolb said officials from the ministry of health and Peel Region are investigating. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority is also looking at the elevator which is believed to have suffered a hydraulic failure in the motor.
But in an e-mail to QMI Agency, Rowsell's family charged that home staff were not helpful during the search, did not call managers with the appropriate keys to complete a full search and delayed a call to police.
"No one did their job and our mother could have died," the family said.
But Carolyn Clubine, director of long-term care for Peel Region, said despite the family's insistence that Rowsell was signed in upon her return, that was not the case. As a result, staff believed she was with her family.
"The fact that she didn't sign back in didn't raise alarm bells with the staff," she said. "It was the length of time that she was gone that began to raise some suspicion."
Clubine also took issue with the family's characterization of the staff search. Staff had all the appropriate keys and called police immediately, she insisted.
Workers completed two full sweeps of the home before calling in firefighters to open the out-of-service elevator, she said.
"There was no delay in us being able to do an absolute top to bottom search of the building," she said.
Clubine said a no one has been disciplined or fired as a result but their investigation is not yet complete.