A letter writer argues that pay parking at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (above) and Surrey Memorial Hospital is prohibitively expensive for patients and their families.

People don’t choose to be sick

Why the reluctance for free parking around hospitals?

No hospital can stay in business if people stop getting sick or injured. All of the health care providers – including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and support staff – would be out of work. There would be a huge stampede towards Service Canada to apply for unemployment benefits.

However, in spite of the infinite discoveries of science and advanced technology, we have not yet discovered the miracle cure to make humans stay healthy from birth to death. Hospitals know that. Hospital foundations know that. And health authorities know that.

Until that miracle cure is discovered, people will continue to get sick and hospitals will be full of patients. There will be no shortage of sick people going in and out of hospitals.

Keeping this in mind, health authorities have come up with an additional income stream in the name of pay parking, though some health authorities gouge more than others.

It first started with very low and nominal rates, but eventually as it gained traction and went unnoticed by the public, pay parking costs sky-rocketed.

I will give some examples that may help better illustrate  this issue.

The pay parking rate at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, for the first half hour, is $4.25, and each additional hour is $3.50 – to a maximum of $18.75 for 12 hours.

So, if one has to be there for 31 minutes, it will cost $4.25 + $3.50 = $7.75. You will pay this amount from 31 minutes to 90 minutes. If you are one minute over, to 91 minutes, then one will pay $7.75 + $3.50 = $11.25. In a nutshell, from 91 minutes to two-and-half hours will cost $11.25.

If the average stay is two hours, then the cost will be $11.25.

This is a very expensive proposition for a patient who is in need of care. The added stress of the meter running out and extra time being needed does not ease the situation.

Now compare Surrey to other regional hospitals, for example, around Mt. St. Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, there is free unlimited parking on 15th Avenue and Prince Edward Street just beside the hospital. Even in the parking lot the rate is $1.75 each half hour to a maximum of $8.25 for 12 hours.

Around Vancouver General Hospital, there are plenty of two-hour parking spots available on 13 and 14 Avenues and Willow Street, just to name a few. After 6 p.m. there is free parking on 12 Avenue and other streets as well.

This option is not available around Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

Victoria General Hospital’s pay parking rate is $2.75 per two hours compared to more than $11 at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.

And Delta Hospital has free parking in the hospital parking lot as well as plenty of free parking on the adjacent streets.

The City of Surrey has eliminated available free parking on streets around both Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. Instead of free parking there is enforced metered parking all around or no parking signs on the adjacent streets.

Why is the City of Surrey so reluctant to allow the option of free, limited parking like Vancouver has, at least on some of the side streets? This could easily be done if the city has the desire to take this issue sincerely and seriously.

Expensive pay parking adds insult to injury for patients and their families. One does not get sick by choice. This is not the best time to gouge the patients and their families through forced pay parking, whether it is by the Fraser Health Authority or the City of Surrey.

 

Kalwant Singh Sahota, Delta

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