STEINBACH – When people go to the hospital it’s usually because they need help but they typically shouldn’t need help getting into the hospital. That’s exactly what people going to Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach experience. Patients say the new ramp and stairs are a hazard and critics say repairs are taking too long.
Wednesday was Terry and Mary Whitwell’s first time at the Steinbach Hospital and Mary struggled to push her husband up the long steep ramp to the hospital entrance.
“It was a real hard push,” said Mary, “it’s kind of tiring. You have to be pretty strong.”
A trip Terry couldn’t have made if he was alone.
“I wouldn’t have made it up the ramp I wouldn’t have the strength,” said Terry.
“He would have missed his appointment,” said Mary.
The brand new ramp is so steep and narrow only one wheelchair can go up and down at a time.
“That was scary,” said Wilbert Dueck after going down the ramp pushing his wife in a wheelchair, “I can’t believe it, that my money went into this here.”
And at 14 steps, the staircase is equally challenging.
“It sure is steep I can’t climb there,” said Nick Kutzak.
“Why would they do this?” said Johanna Reimer, “a lot of old people go to the hospital it’s not a lot of common sense.”
The ramp and stairs were built last year as part of the hospital’s $4.5 million renovations.
“It is ridiculous,” said Steinbach Conservative MLA Kelvin Goertzen, “it is almost comical but it is serious because it’s a hospital.”
Goertzen has repeatedly asking for it be rebuilt to ground level, instead they added a speaker system at the bottom of the stairs.
“You can go and press the button between the hours of 7-3,” said Goertzen.
And hospital staff will help you in. A chilling idea in Maniotba’s winters and one the NDP Health Minister Sharon Blady agrees should be fixed telling Global News, “I share the frustration that many patients are feeling, and agree that the current ramp and staircase at the bethesda health centre are not acceptable.”
“Everyone agrees this a problem and needs to be fixed but it hasn’t been fixed,” said Goertzen.
But now more than a year after it opened, changes are being made this month.
“We’ll have an area where people can rest,” said Jan Gunness, with the Southern Health Region.
The construction of three rest areas along the ramp will be built so people can pull over and let other wheelchairs pass but, “the slope will stay the same, we aren’t able to adjust that,” said Gunness.
There’s no word on what that will cost but patients can’t help but wonder, how this ever got built.
“I don’t know what to do, cry or laugh about this,” said Dueck.
Construction on the ramp improvements will start in August and be completed at the end of September. It’ll be a while before any improvements are made to the stairs.