01/02/2013 03:41 EST | Updated 03/04/2013 05:12 EST

Senior Trapped In Nursing Home Elevator For More Than A Day

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Authorities have ordered three investigations after an elderly woman was trapped for 29 hours in an elevator over the holidays in a nursing home in Mississauga, Ont.

The 87-year-old woman was stuck in the elevator at the Malton Village Long Term Care Centre from the evening of Dec. 23 until about 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, said Emil Kolb, the chair of the Region of Peel in a Wednesday statement.

"The administration advised me about this very distressing occurrence on Christmas Day. It was very unhappy news on what should be one of the most joyous days of the year. But my distress was certainly far less than that of the resident and her family," Kolb said.

"The Region of Peel takes responsibility for the care and safety of the residents of our long-term care centres very seriously. We have apologized to the resident and her family for this gap in our duty."

The woman was dropped off at the front doors of the nursing home near Derry Road East and Highway 427 on the evening of Dec. 23 by her family, but did not arrive on her floor, said Kolb. Staff thought she was still staying with her family.

Staff called the woman's family on the next day, which is when they found out she had been dropped off at the nursing home the previous day.

Trapped between floors

"We believe she became trapped in the elevator between floors on her way to her room and was unable to obtain assistance for the next 24 hours" said Kolb. "This is one of the key areas of focus in our investigations. How could that happen?"

Staff then ordered a search of the home, which was unsuccessful, and then had Peel police search the home without success.

Staff then checked the elevator, which Kolb said was "the only place left to search" and was malfunctioning and had to be shut down on the morning of the 24th.

When staff finally found the woman at 2 a.m. on the 25th, she was treated at the scene and then taken to hospital for evaluation.

She returned to the nursing home later that day. Staff are observing her closely and a doctor conducted a checkup on Dec. 27, Kolb said.

As a result of this "extremely serious failure," staff at the nursing home are conducting an internal investigation.

Carolyn Clubine, the director of Peel Long Term Care, said that "every effort" will be made to ensure that this never happens again.

"Too many things went wrong all at the same time," Clubine told CBC News in an interview on Wednesday. "That's how this particular incident happened."

Ontario's health and long-term care ministry is also investigating, as is the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, a private organization that provides safety services on behalf of the provincial government.

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