In modern Health care facilities, there are generally two methods for
the control of parking, charging and enforcement, and in most cases the
issues of charging for parking in hospitals are a 'contstraint' issue
and not just about the money.
Most parking professionals, who have in healthcare parking, know that
the main culprits on site are the staff who will park anywhere and use
their status to escape the consequences of their actions (very big
generalisation here). A clearly defined area for staff parking is
required and then (especially if no charging is used) a complete and
high tech Enforcement solution is required, with fines that will make
the culprits think twice about repeating their actions. Being soft on
these issue are just a method of creating problems in the future.
Toughen up and back the patients and staff who want to park and follow
the rules and isolate those who make the need for high technology and
enforcement a must.
Hospital parking is the most complicated business case in parking,
especially on the large hospital sites. To control the site is always
going to be difficult and will never get full buy in from the users as
you are annoying all parties of users.
If you take away the fees in this case, you must replace them with a
full Enforcment system or the same doctors who complain that it impedes
their practises will be complaining about the same thing as patients
will struggle to find a car park.
Hospital parking fees should be scrapped, journal saysNovember 28, 2011
Richard J. Brennan
Parking at North York General Hospital on Monday. The Canadian Medical Association Journal is calling for free parking at hospitals, saying exorbitant fees are interferring with patient care.
It’s time hospitals abolished parking fees for the sake of their patients, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
In an editorial, the respected publication states hospital parking amounts to nothing more than user fees and is subsequently an impediment to health care.
Putting the proceeds toward health care runs counter to the Canada Health Act’s objectives and could become the subject of a legal challenge, writes Dr. Rajendra Kale, the journal’s interim editor-in-chief.
“Some patients (who have often waited several weeks to see a doctor) try to end a consultation abruptly when they realize that they will have to pay for an additional hour for parking,” he writes. “This is parking-centred health care, which is not compatible with patient-centred health care.”
David Montgomery, president of Haldimand War Memorial Hospital in rural southwestern Ontario, agreed.
“My own personal philosophy is that we shouldn’t have to charge patients and visitors. We should be doing whatever we can to make it easier for them to seek out care,” he said.
Montgomery added that War Memorial’s “favourable financial position” has helped them avoid parking fees — a luxury not afforded by many other Canadian hospitals that rely on the revenue as a source of additional income.
“We think what they are recommending is absurd and totally unrealistic,” Tom Closson, chief executive officer of the Ontario Hospital Association, told the Toronto Star on Monday.
It’s important to remember the province funds only 74 per cent of all hospital costs, or $17.2 billion, while hospitals in Ontario spend $23 billion, Closson added. “This is a portion of . . . what they need to pay the difference.”
The editorial notes hospital parking fees were abolished in Scotland in 2008.
“Little needs to be said about the plight of patients undergoing regular dialysis or chemotherapy who need to make an endless number of trips to the hospital,” Kale writes. “And what about parents who have to drive sick children to hospital?”
Many Canadians have no option but to drive, given the size of the country and the fact specialists are often located in larger urban centres, Kale argues.
Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition, a public health advocacy group, said scrapping “exorbitant” hospital parking fees makes perfect sense.
“What it means is that’s it’s a levy on the elderly and family members of people who are ill or people who are ill and require hospital care. It’s almost like charging them a user fee to see their doctor,” she said.
The CMAJ says the amount hospitals generate through parking fees is only a small amount of their overall budgets — in some cases, about 1 per cent.
Closson said that may not sound like a lot of money, but it represents $230 million a year across Ontario. “It’s quite a significant revenue source,” he said.
In Atlantic Canada, Cape Breton’s district health authority began rolling out paid parking to its hospitals in the mid-1990s to fund medical equipment purchases, said district spokesman Greg Boone.
Four of the district’s six critical care hospitals now charge patients and residents $3 each time they enter the parking lot. The fee, though small compared with the rate of major urban hospitals, is expected to generate over $900,000 this year for hospital programs, services and equipment, Boone added.
Justine Jackson, a senior vice-president and chief financial officer at Toronto’s University Health Network, said hospitals everywhere are looking to “make money so we can do more health care.” The network’s three hospitals — Princess Margaret, Toronto General and Toronto Western — net about $6.5 million annually in parking fees.
“It’s not quite a user fee because patients do have a choice,” Jackson said. “They don’t have to drive. They can take public transit. So the fact that they prefer to drive is a choice they make.”
At Queen’s Park, Health Minister Deb Matthews noted “parking fees do not fall under the Canada Health Act,” so the province can’t control them.
But Matthews said people should raise the matter with their local hospital, pointing out some already give special rates to some dialysis patients or parents of children in neonatal units. “I would urge hospitals to have an open mind when people come with concerns about the fees,” she said.
Pamela Fralick, president and CEO of the Canadian Healthcare Association, said in a “perfect world” it would be great to abolish parking fees. “But if we do remove this source of revenue, something has to give and my question would be what it is that we give up?”
With files from Robert Benzie and Niamh Scallan
The lowdown on parking rates — and revenues
1,200 parking spaces.
$4 per half-hour, $23 max per day at Bayview main campus (all figures are regular weekday rates)
Approximately $6 million projected parking revenue for this year
“About 90 per cent of parking fees go to fund scientists’ salaries and 10 per cent for research administration,” said Sunnybrook spokesman Craig Duhamel. “It would really be a major blow to our research infrastructure and our ability to pay for scientists salaries (if parking fees were abolished).”
North York General Hospital
1,700 parking spaces at the general site
$4 per half-hour, $18.50 max per day
$5.5 million projected parking revenue (for all sites)
Money raised from parking covers the cost of maintaining the lots and supports programs, said spokeswoman Elizabeth McCarthy. “If we didn’t have this money, we would have to consider cutting some services.”
The Hospital for Sick Children
970 parking spaces
$5 per half-hour, $30 max per day
4.5 to $5 million in parking revenue per year
Parking fee revenue is used to offset the hospital’s operating costs, said hospital spokeswoman Matet Nebres. “If this funding source was lost, SickKids would have to find other sources of revenue to support its current level of activity,” she added.
The Scarborough Hospital
599 parking spaces.
$3.50 per half-hour, $14 max per day
$3.6 million projected parking revenue for this year
Revenues support patient care
Mount Sinai Hospital
109 parking spaces.
$4 per 20 minutes, $20 max per day
$1 to 1.5 million projected parking revenue for this year
“Commercial and retail ventures, such as parking, generate much needed revenue to help support Mount Sinai’s programs and equipment upgrades to best serve our patients,” Mount Sinai spokesman Rob McMahon said.
St. Michael’s Hospital
20 parking spaces.
$4 per half-hour, $20 max per day
$122,000 projected parking revenue for this year
Funds are used to offset the hospitals operating costs-
University Health Network
1,238 parking spaces at Toronto General Hospital; 604 parking spaces at Toronto Western Hospital
$4.50 per half hour, $28 max per day
$7 million projected parking revenue for this year
“UHN generates net revenue of seven million dollars per year which is the equivalent of seven ICU beds or approximately 30 medical beds,” says Justine Jackson, University Health Network’s senior vice president and chief financial officer. “If we didn’t charge for parking, we would have to find the equivalent amount in savings which would affect patient care.”