With the elevator out of commission, patients who were unable to walk had to be carried up the stairs to the bedrooms at Ty Watson House Hospice. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

With the elevator out of commission, patients who were unable to walk had to be carried up the stairs to the bedrooms at Ty Watson House Hospice. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni’s hospice on hook for elevator repairs

Ty Watson House must raise $72,000 to fix elevator

When the elevator at Ty Watson House Hospice in Port Alberni quit working last month, the Alberni Valley Hospice Society hoped insurance would cover the hefty repair bill.

No such luck: not only did patients have to be carried upstairs to their bedrooms by volunteers, but the hospice will now have to find $72,000 to pay for the repairs.

The hospice was without its elevator for five weeks, said Teresa Ludvigson, the hospice’s new fund development officer. While it has now been repaired, Ty Watson House was forced to pay for it out of its annual operating fund. That money now needs to be replaced, she said.

“The $72,000 cost is a serious impact on our operational budget,” she explained. “In those five weeks we had volunteers from specific service organizations carry our residents up and down the stairs. We cannot operate without an elevator.”

Although the elevator undergoes regular maintenance checks every three months, it was impossible to see the damage until the elevator quit working, executive director Theresa Maxmenko said. The master cylinder, which is encased in PVC plastic, had corroded, and any sort of corrosion isn’t covered by insurance.

The elevator was installed in the house in 2002, and the building opened as a hospice in 2008. So the elevator has been in use for more than a decade.

The hospice has started a gofundme account and this week will be mailing an appeal to approximately 10,000 households in the Alberni Valley, asking for people to help pay for its elevator.

They hope to recoup the funds in the next six months.

Maxmenko admitted there is no guarantee that this won’t happen again with the elevator, but said they will be better prepared if something like this reoccurs. “Going forward we’ll be looking more at putting money aside for emergencies like this,” she said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to do when you’re a non-profit. Having too much money is difficult for getting grants and such.

“We definitely need to have a contingency fund.”

For more information, go online to albernihospice.ca. The gofundme.com account is under “Ty Watson House Elevator”.

editor@albernivalleynews.com