The nurse who was injured in an elevator accident at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth last month suffered brain damage and multiple internal injuries, was in a coma for 15 days and has still been in and out of consciousness, her attorney said at a news conference Friday.
Carren Stratford, who's in her 50s and has two adult children, had been employed as a nurse at the hospital for the last two and half years, attorney Frank Branson said.
JPS CEO and President Robert Earley said Stratford was trying to get on an elevator on Jan. 20 and it didn't stop going up. She had put her right foot into the elevator, and as she did, the elevator continued going up and injured her.
Stratford suffered hypoxic brain damage, when the brain is deprived of oxygen, and she had to undergo multiple surgeries, Branson said. She was still hospitalized Friday, weeks after the accident.
"As a Level 1 trauma center, all of our goals – whether you clean the halls or are an administrator – is to keep people alive. So the heartache and the pain of one of your own being in that situation is devastating," Earley said.
Earley said a lawsuit against the elevator company, Thyssenkrup Elevator, is still a possibility. Earley called Thyssenkrup "unresponsive" in the incident, saying the company did not return phone calls from JPS officials for eight days.
"We are not elevator experts," Earley said. "You hire elevator experts, and we thought we had elevator experts. We've got a contract that clearly spells out what elevator companies are supposed to do to help with safety and security of everyone that works here."
In a statement after Friday's news conference, Thyssenkrupp said it was "deeply saddened to learn of the injuries" suffered by Stratford.
"As we have just received the details surrounding her tragic accident, it wouldn’t be appropriate to provide further comment until we have had a chance to review and better understand what happened on January 20, 2019," the company statement said.
Stratford was injured on one of the hospital's "purple" elevators, which have remained out of service since the accident.
The elevator, which began operation in 1993, passed inspection on April 4, 2018, according to a report from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The report noted three violations – no fire extinguisher in an elevator machine room, a top light not guarded and a missing duct cover – but the violations weren't deemed to be significant and wouldn't affect the operation of the elevator.