An elderly woman from South Surrey is urging Walmart to better train its employees to work with customers with disabilities after she said her husband was at risk of serious injury from a fall during a recent shopping trip.
Kathleen McMahon said she and John were at Grandview Corners Walmart Supercentre (2355 160 St.) on April 20 when a security guard forced John to use a shopping cart while McMahon pulled his van out of the parking lot.
John, 79, has balance problems due to Parkinson’s disease, and Kathleen left him waiting right outside – “in exactly the same place where I always” – in the store’s free wheelchair, which he used for half an hour. d spent shopping in the store.
However, when she returned a few minutes later, she was shocked to see him standing, clutching a shopping cart to keep from falling.
“His expression was one of pure terror,” Kathleen said.
“His legs, because of Parkinson’s disease, his thighs are cold. No warning. It can just fall, and it has happened many times,” she explained.
“He held on with all his might.”
World Arch News has not yet received a response from Walmart to a request for comment.
The company reportedly told television news that they were looking into the incident and would contact the McMahons.
However, Kathleen says she didn’t hear “no sound” from either the store manager or anyone at the corporate level – both messages were left on the day of the incident.
“I would at least like to hear that they are looking into this and contacting me,” she said. “They didn’t even do that.
Kathleen said she made sure to talk to the security guard at the time, but says the response she got there “did nothing to lessen the anger I felt.”
The employee simply confirmed that she had borrowed a wheelchair from John, who also has Alzheimer’s, and said that store policy forbade taking them out of the store.
If that were the case, “there are a lot of ways she could have handled this situation,” Kathleen said.
“The one she chose was irresponsible, reckless. Borrowing a wheelchair from a disabled person is irresponsible.”
Kathleen said her husband is not hostile about what happened and said she is not seeking financial compensation from Walmart, although she would certainly have sued if John had fallen that day.
She went public with the experience because she’s sure it’s not the first time something like this has happened, and “I wish it would stop.”
She would like the policy to be drafted together and staff trained to ensure this “never happens again”.
“When something goes wrong on so many levels, I think it’s important to speak up,” she said. “I will not tolerate this behavior. It’s just not right.”
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