Finding a parking spot should be the last thing on someone’s mind when they go to the hospital.
On a recent trip to Surrey Memorial Hospital to cover a press conference, I drove around for more than 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot. I was lucky to find one and not be late.
It got me thinking about what it must be like for others who visit the hospital under much more stressful circumstances.
I contacted Fraser Health to find out how many parking stalls Surrey Memorial Hospital has.
The answer is 2,151. On average, only one per cent of those are available throughout the day, according to Fraser Health. That means, on an average day, only 22 parking spots are available.
Patients, staff, and visitors might have to spend precious time looking for one of those 22 potentially available parking spots. I have been told in passing by health care workers and staff at the hospital that finding a parking spot can be a daily struggle.
I went to our Instagram page to see who else has run into the same problem. The replies were not all negative. Some people reported having no issue finding parking. In contrast, others detailed having to drive around looking for a spot.
In an email to the Now-Leader, Fraser Health stated, “We recognize that a delay in finding parking while seeking care or visiting a friend or loved one at the hospital can be concerning.”
Fraser Health added it is “committed to providing safe and accessible parking” for patients, clients and their families.
And what about the parking fees? They encourage stall rotation, which ensures patients always have access to parking, stated Fraser Health. Paid parking also discourages those from surrounding businesses from parking there.
Revenue from parking fees goes toward patient care at the hospital and covers parking operating costs such as security, lighting and repaving.
The hospital also has different parking rates for the needs of the patients and visitors in each area. For example, parking is free for the following patient groups:
• Patients receiving dialysis treatment
• Patients undergoing cancer treatment in hospital programs
• Parents or guardians of children staying overnight in hospital
• Financial hardship permits are available on a case-by-case basis by contacting the parking administration at 604-930-5440 or email LMCParking@fraserhealth.ca.
Vehicles are allowed to stay for free for 15 minutes in pick-up and drop-off areas closest to the emergency department and main entrance.
Fraser Health has added more parking spots to the hospital, including the new north parkade and Critical Care Tower parkade. (For more information on parking at Surrey Memorial Hospital, visit fraserhealth.ca/patients-and-visitors/parking).
Many have argued that parking at a hospital should always be free. But one could argue, like Fraser Health pointed out, that it might encourage people from the area and surrounding businesses to park there, which would take a spot from patients, visitors and employees. This is especially the case for Surrey Memorial Hospital, which is close to the downtown core and is surrounded by many businesses.
I am not sure there is such an easy solution.
Or maybe there is?
What do you think? Should parking at the hospital be free?