COLUMN: Hospital parking doesn’t have to be a nightmare

There are solutions to pay-parking stress, if health officials willing to look for them

If there’s one complaint we get here at the Abbotsford News more than any other, it’s that it sucks to have to pay to park at the hospital.

And it does.

Illnesses, of course, can cause financial stress and drug prices are no joke, but the general theme of our public health care system is that when you go into the hospital, you mostly don’t have to worry about what the final bill for treatment and care will be.

Which is why paying to park at the hospital is such a major bummer.

Whether you’re stopping by for a procedure, or caring for someone long-term, the need to pay for parking is a continuous niggle at the corners of your already-stressed mind.

It’s easy to think the obvious solution is for parking to be free.

The problem with that is that doing so would likely force health authorities to buy more land, an expensive proposition that would be funded by a public with better things to spend their health care dollars on.

But there’s no reason the parking situation at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and other hospitals should be as miserable as it is currently.

This topic is at the fore of my mind because I spent most of Monday at the hospital for a relative’s non-serious surgery.

Upon parking, the first thing you’re confronted with are barely discernible numbers on each stall. These numbers aren’t needed anymore. The licence plate is the key to hospital parking, but if it’s your first time there, you’ll probably spend some time trying to decipher what stall you’ve parked in. I saw one person doing just that. I saw another person try to enter the stall number in the machine.

Which brings us to the machines. When I arrived around noon, there was a long lineup for the two pay machines near the hospital entrance.

Once you get to the front of the line, you’re left trying to calculate how long you will be in the hospital.

Canada’s health care system is good for many things. What it does not do well is over-deliver on speed. We all should know this by now. I, as a reporter who has written tens of thousands of words on the subject, should know this better than most. And yet, when considering how long I’d be staying at the hospital on Monday, I low-balled it.

For the rest of the day, that had me looking at the clock and bugging nurses about when we’d finally be on our way. Clearly, I should have plunked down for the 12-hour rate instead of hoping that I’d be gone in two.

But the point is not that I lost a wager with a parking machine. It’s merely that there is no reason that parking at a hospital should not, and does not have to, be quite so anger-inducing.

Scrape off, or just paint over, those parking stall numbers on the pavement. Add another pay meter or two – preferably in the parking lot so new visitors don’t have to hunt for them. And consider the variety of ways the whole meter-plugging problem can be solved.

It should be easy in this day and age. You should be able to enter your licence plate and have a machine bill you throughout the day until you return and tell it you’re leaving. Have it max out at a certain daily dollar amount and the problem is solved. You pay for all the parking you use, and none you don’t. Have an attendant check lots once a day for the licence plates of people who have left but forget to check out.

Fixing the hospital parking nightmare doesn’t require space-age technology. It just requires a little initiative and a recognition that the current half-baked system imposes stress on men and women going through difficult enough times as it is.

Just Posted

Come visit the cute little critters at Elizabeth’s Wildlife Center

Abbotsford centre holds annual open house on Aug. 24 and 25

Abbotsford Police ‘speed watchers’ are tops in province

Volunteers record highest increase in patrol hours in ICBC challenge

UPDATE: Abbotsford woman reported missing from Chilliwack has been found

Alexis Neill, 26, located safe and sound, police say

Event supports women’s centre that is at risk of having to move

Abbotsford women’s recovery program holds annual Victory Walk

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of robberies included convenience store in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago

Teacher disciplined after bringing 45 grams of cannabis to Surrey school

Eugenio Bahamonde was also charged with trafficking in Vancouver, but later acquitted

B.C. rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Vancouver Island school and difficult to remove

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

The allegations have not been proven in court. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver airport at the behest of the U.S.

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Ethics commissioner ready to testify on Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin: NDP critic

A new poll suggests the report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

Prices showed strength in other areas, including an 18.9 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

VIDEO: Organization’s stolen wheelchair van recovered on backroad near Hope

Wheelchair accessible van is only transportation for some people in Hope area

Most Read