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Walking in fear: One woman’s plea to light a dark parking lot
ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - You get off work and walk to your car. But this time, the parking lot is dark because so many lights are burned out. That’s what some employees in Oro Valley said they've gone through night after night. They felt unsafe and when the employer wouldn’t act, one turned to 9 On Your Side. Change came within 24 hours.
Raquel Post snapped some photos of her employer’s dark parking lot. It’s difficult to see, but the poorly-lit pictures show a shadowy sidewalk and entranceway. Few live lights illuminated the lot.
“I get that ting in my stomach that doesn't make me feel good,” she told 9 On Your Side, describing what she felt walking to her car in the near darkness at Oro Valley Hospital’s medical office building. She did not feel safe.
“I have a flashlight in my purse,” the medical assistant said. “I considered getting a can of mace just for my walk to my car -- just because you never know.”
You never know so she began walking to her car with coworkers. She was also worried about the safety of patients.
“When we've come out and it's completely pitch black and we have no idea where we're stepping, it only takes that one time for an elderly patient to miss the curb or one of ourselves to miss a curb and face plant,” Post said.
Post reported there were nearly 20 burned out bulbs. She said she and her coworkers repeatedly asked the hospital to replace them without success.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Post, “Do you need to give maintenance staff some notice or do you feel like they've gotten the amount of time that they should -- and it should be fixed by now?” “I believe, yes, it should've been fixed,” she answered.
After Post asked 9 On Your Side to step in, Keen called Oro Valley Hospital. A spokeswoman said the hospital is just a tenant and doesn't own the lot. She passed the buck to Ohio-based property manager Health Care REIT. The real estate trust lists the medical office building on its website
Next, 9 On Your Side called Health Care REIT. A representative promised to look into the matter and return the call.
But before that happened, Oro Valley Hospital called back with a promise to fix the problem once and for all.
Director of system marketing Kim Chimene agreed to talk on camera, but insisted the interview only be on the sidewalk. She would not allow 9 On Your Side to get a look at the parking lot up close.
“We got with the property manager and we've gained access to a room we need to have access to get that problem fixed,” Chimene said. “They will have the lights fixed by tomorrow.”
Chimene admitted the hospital should have and would have preferred to handled this situation internally.
“Safety, obviously, is a huge issue at a hospital and not just our patients' safety, but our employees' safety as well," she said. “If it's dark back there, then we certainly want to make sure that our employees feel safe.”
Less than 24 hours after our conversation, Post said staff did replace the lights. She said she was "shocked and relieved.” She sent "after" pictures” -- a near night-and-day difference from the sidewalk to the lot.
Now, a safer walk for both employees and patients.
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