A Manitoba senior with a knee problem is fighting a $500 ambulance bill that was charged to her after she needed help getting to the hospital across the street.

Adding to her exasperation, Beverly Tenszen says she wouldn’t have even needed an ambulance if it weren’t for the lack of elevator access to her sixth-floor apartment, which is inside a building operated by the same health authority that runs the ambulance service.

Tenszen, 78, lives in Regency House in Portage la Prairie, which is run by Southern Health. In mid-November, her knee was throbbing, so she went the hospital roughly 100 metres away.

Soon after that, the elevator in her building stopped working, forcing her to climb six flights of stairs on her sore knee.

Days later, she hobbled back to the hospital with the help of friends. The doctor drained fluid from her knee, she says. With the elevator still out, she once again climbed the six flights.

The next day, she repeated it all over again a third time – down the stairs, over to the hospital, and back up the six flights of stairs.

On Nov. 26, she says she fell out of bed trying to get up because the pain in her knee was so severe. The elevator was still out of service, so she called 911 for an ambulance.

“I had no way to get there, and I had a legitimate beef,” she says. “My own doctor kept me in until Dec. 7 because my leg was so bad.”

Two weeks later, she got the $500 ambulance bill. Tenszen says the health authority knocked it down in January to $425, but that’s still “close to a month’s rent.”

“It’s very frustrating,” she says.

A spokesperson for Southern Health said the agency is reviewing the ambulance fee and apologized for the broken elevator.

“The elevator at Regency House is original to the building and despite ongoing regular maintenance and repairs, as the elevator has aged, additional repairs have been required,” the spokesperson said.

“We regret any distress caused to residents of Regency House during this time,” Southern Health added.

With a report from CTV Manitoba’s Stephanie Tsicos