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Broken elevator leaves some seniors stuck in Freeport apartments

Lydia Rodriguez, sitting with her daughter Nancy Geyer

Lydia Rodriguez, sitting with her daughter Nancy Geyer on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, feels "trapped" in her Freeport apartment because the elevator in her building has been out of service, her daughter said. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A nearly weeklong elevator outage in a Freeport senior housing facility has left some residents stuck in their apartments, residents say.

The only elevator in the Peternana Terrace apartment building has been experiencing mechanical problems since Wednesday, forcing elderly residents to use the stairs or remain in their rooms, residents said. The affordable senior housing facility is run by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and was subsidized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Repair crews responded Wednesday and have visited several times since, said Catholic Charities spokesman Umberto Mignardi.

The repair company is ordering a number of parts from different vendors, Mignardi said, adding that the elevator needs “a substantial repair and it’s going to take some time.”

Mignardi did not have additional information regarding the timeline of the repair, but said Catholic Charities is working “feverishly” to expedite the process. The Stanan Group of Real Estate Related Companies — a Hempstead-based real estate organization that manages Peternana Terrace — said in a statement the company has been working “to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

Nancy Geyer said her mother, Lydia Rodriguez, had to walk up four flights of stairs Saturday to reach her fifth-floor apartment after returning from a trip to Puerto Rico. Rodriguez, 87, uses a walker.

“I was shocked she made it,” said Geyer, 55, of Uniondale.

Rodriguez has not left the apartment since and “feels like she’s been trapped in her room forever,” Geyer said.

“She’s supposed to go see the heart doctor and I can’t get her out of here,” she said. “God forbid somebody needs an ambulance.”

Catholic Charities’ social services coordinator has increased visits to Peternana Terrace, and the organization has hired a home health aide to check on residents and assist them with personal needs, Mignardi said.

Extra security guards have also been placed there to help residents use the stairs and assist with groceries and other errands, he added.

“We want to make sure that they don’t feel alone or abandoned,” Mignardi said. “I want to make sure that families and residents know that we’re working on it as diligently as possible and that we’re going to expedite this as quickly as possible.”

There are 97 units in the Peternana Terrace building, according to Catholic Charities’ website.

Geyer said she has noticed some additional help for residents during the outage, but that it’s not enough.

“They want to get out, that’s the main thing,” she said.

Betty DuBois lives on the third floor of Peternana Terrace but has been staying with her daughter in Freeport since the elevator broke last week.

DuBois, 76, said she uses a walker and doesn’t think she could make it up the stairs to her room, while the outage has left some residents she knows stuck in theirs.

DuBois’ daughter, Cynthia Stuart, 55, said she hasn’t been able to get any information on the repair from building management, and that it seems like “nobody cares about the seniors.”

Mignardi said Catholic Charities will provide an update as soon as they receive more information from the elevator repair company.

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