Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hospital Parking: What's good for the goose



At last, a sensible suggestion from Canada's doctors.

Do away with parking fees at hospitals.

Level the playing field. Take away unnecessary stress from patients. Pity the downtrodden who are forced to come to the hospital every day. Stop taxing the poor and the sick.

The hospitals will ignore this advice, of course. They depend on parking fees to pay for medical equipment.

The same way the province depends on seniors to lose their Old Age Pensions at the government-run casinos.

But the argument has some merit. A few weeks back, I was acting as a volunteer driver for my friends Bob and Doris when Doris was in the hospital and Bob was sick at home. It cost about $100 to a) stay with Doris during her emergency treatment b) visit Doris in the hospital c) shuffle Bob around to various doctors appointments.

Usually, we can get around the parking fees because we live close to the hospital. If Scott or Marissa needed to go to emerg or an appointment, I'd simply drop them off and come back when they were finished.

But having to actually be part of the care team, as I was with Doris, required me to fork over at least eight bucks at day.

This is a horrible burden for people on fixed incomes. It's the one thing that those with medical insurance have to pay out of their own pocket, and it often prevents friends and family from supporting patients -- which puts more strain on the hospital staff.

I remember the time 10 years back when I was a single mother and Marissa had a biking accident and her leg was run over by a bus. I could barely afford to live at that time, and I had to juggle to pay for parking -- really a stress I didn't need when I thought my daughter might not walk again.

So I'm for it. Getting rid of the parking fees at the hospital.

But I'd like to take it further. Why not eliminate the parking fees at doctors' offices, too? Often, the parking fees are higher at medical clinics than at hospitals and people spend more time getting blood tests, X-rays and physiotherapy than they do in hospitals.

I'm sure the doctors would not be happy with this recommendation.

Why?

Because most of those parking lots are owned by doctors. Doctor-run lots are the cash cows that keep your specialist or GP in a new Porsche every couple of years and pay for their luxury time shares in Tremblant.

I don't see anywhere in the report a suggestion to do away with private parking at medical clinics.

At least the hospital parking lots use their money for hospital equipment instead of million dollar houses in Rockcliffe.

What's good for the goose, as they say.

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