Hospitals rake in parking fees, capitalizing on 'panicked' patients, families: advocate
2019-09-10 from vancouversun.com
Hospitals around B.C. continue to rake in ever-swelling bags of cash from paid parking lots, according to figures compiled by a local advocacy group that wants to see an end to the “cash cow.”
Collectively, the Fraser, Coastal, Interior, Island and Northern health authorities raised $1.95 million more in parking revenue during the 2019 fiscal year than they did in 2018, a nearly 5.7 per cent increase, according to hospitalpayparking.ca and audited financial statements from health providers.
Interior Health raked in $708,000 more in 2019, a 13 per cent increase. Northern Health took in an additional $321,000, up a whopping 45 per cent.
Charging patients and their loved-ones for parking is “very troubling and inhumane,” said Kofi Obiri-Yeboah, who shelled out $14 for parking at Richmond Hospital on Monday. “There are so many things wrong with whoever thought this was a cheap way of raising money. To me, it’s emotional abuse.”
He minced no words about what he thought of parking fees at hospitals: “It’s criminal,” he said.
As an engineer, he said he can afford to pay the fees, but many are not able to. It’s also the principle of the thing, he added.
Don Stramford, who just paid another $7 to renew his two-hour parking, was at the hospital to celebrate the birth of a grandchild. It’s a happy occasion, he acknowledged, but that’s not always the case.
“My wife died of cancer nine years ago,” he said. “I paid $65 a week because I came here every day to see someone who is dying.”
For Jon Buss, head of the advocacy group, hospital parking must be overhauled so it does not exploit people who may be sick or in distress and who may not be able to concern themselves with keeping meters topped up.
“If you look at medications, they say don’t operate heavy machinery after taking this drug. If you go to surgery, the doctors say don’t enter into legally binding contracts a week after surgery. The common denominator here is state of mind. When people go to a hospital, they are in an exposed state of mind because they’re often panicking, they may be hurt, they may be suffering.
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