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Should hospital parking be free?

Categories: Canada

 Eastern Health announced it will replace parking meters at a St. John's hospital with a new automated system instead.(CBC)A St. John's hospital will remove parking meters from its parking lot and install an automated pay-on-foot system instead.

Eastern Health announced Friday that the new system is planned to be operational in the fall of 2012, and will include an automated arm and payment kiosk system at a total cost of $670,665.

Drivers will receive a ticket when they enter the lot and present the ticket at a kiosk when they exit to determine the cost of parking. Patients and visitors will also be able to pay inside the Health Sciences Center.

Eastern Health has recently come under fire for charging patients parking fees since an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal described the practice of charging patients for parking at hospitals as a "barrier to care."

In November, cancer patient Tom Badcock dismissed parking tickets he incurred while receiving chemotherapy at the Health Sciences Center. He called it a form of civil disobedience and urged other hospital visitors to boycott payment for parking.

Readers on weighed in on the new payment system, and discussed whether patients should be charged while visiting patients, receiving treatment, or not - and if not, how to best maintain the facilities.

  • "Parking should be FREE! This is not the airport where people have a choice. People parking at the hospital are there because they have no choice. Either being a patient of visiting. No need to gouge them any further." - CoryTrevor
  • "It costs a boat load of money to provide and maintain that parking lot - considering the big bills that get covered by our tax dollars parking is a very small price to pay. Plus, driving a car is not the only way to get to the hospital, it's a choice people make. If you don't like paying for parking find another way to get to the hospital." - AJRC27
  • "At the hospital in Kentville Nova Scotia you don't receive a ticket when you enter the parking lot but when you want to exit through a gate you pay $2.00 into a slot and the barrier rises and out you go no matter how long you are their. Works for me plus it's designed for patients and not staff. They have separate parking." - listen to me
  • "I agree patrons of the hospital should not have to pay for parking, but how would you stop all the staff and med school/pharmacy students from taking those spots?" - Mikestj
  • "Patients should definitely not have to pay for parking. Maybe a temporary permit could be issued to patients for the duration of their treatment." - lindanfld

Should parking in hospitals be free? Will the new parking system in St. John's Health Sciences Center help avoid situations like Tom Badcock's? Share your thoughts and ideas about hospital parking in the comments section below.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Community Reaction, Health, POV

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