On October 29, 2011, WCBA devoted an entire show to the trials and tribulations Canadians face with hospital parking. On our blog, we posted a lengthy letter sent by Pamela Leeb to Dr. Robert Bell, CEO of University Health Network. In it, she described receiving a $450 parking ticket when she parked her car across the street from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, where she was undergoing cancer treatment. Leeb received some good news. Click below to read Ms. Leeb's letter and its impact.
Kira Leeb sent us this email of a letter she helped her mother Pamela Leeb draft to Robert Bell, CEO of University Health Network:
"Dear Dr. Bell: I was recently receiving my treatment in Princess Margaret Hospital and read your commitment to ensuring the hospital environment is disability-friendly. Of course, I applaud this commitment and would like to bring to your attention a situation that would increase your ability to deliver on this commitment."
"I am an 83 year old woman who is now receiving regular treatment at PMH. A few months ago I obtained a disability permit and am obviously still learning about its benefits. As I find it difficult to travel via transit etc, I am now in the habit of driving to my treatments. On this one day, I made the unfortunate mistake of parking directly across from the Murray Street entrance in one of the two spaces that I thought were designated for disability-permitted parking despite also saying "no standing". I have enclosed a picture of the sign."
"To my surprise I received a $450 ticket! There is no question this will be a stretch for me to pay. However, given the lack of clear signage I have decided to fight the ticket in court. The police have told me the court date could be 6 months to a year away. In any event, when I questioned security personnel and others at PMH, they told me that others had also received such a ticket but they did not really understand the problem and could not explain it to me."
"On my own, I investigated further and found in the Driver's Manual the full meaning of the parking sign. If you are truly committed to making your hospital environment disability-friendly, I am hoping that you will consider posting a VERY PROMINENT sign warning patients that these spaces are not parking zones - they are time limited "drop-off" zones for patients. The parking sign itself does not even specify the time-limitation and even in the Driver's Manual it says "pick up and drop off only" with no specification of time limit. As I mentioned, I plan to fit this ticket."
"My concern is that others who receive these tickets have no capacity to address these issues and frankly, nor should they have to from my perspective. While I understand that this is a municipality issue, I am not confident that any action will be taken to clarify the signage any time soon. Given your stated desire to ensure the environment of the hospital, I felt that my best option was to write to someone already committed to making a difference in patient experience."
"At a minimum, a clear sign outlining the parking issue related to the Murray Street entrance would be very much appreciated, both inside and outside of the entrance. Any other action that you think might help warn your patients of the issue and minimize the extent to which patients are subjected to these fines would be very very welcome. Please let me know if I can assist in any way to help you further deliver on your commitment to ensuring a disability-friendly hospital environment."
We just received this email from Pamela Leeb's daughter Kira:
"Hi Brian: I'm at Princess Margaret Hospital with my mom and wanted to update you about her parking ticket issue."
"She did end up receiving a letter from the hospital but not from Dr Bell. However the letter did say they were following up with the city to see about the parking sign. Of course the letter didn't contain any sympathy and said there was nothing they could do for her re the ticket."
"But the mislabled, confusing sign has been changed! In the month or two since your program aired, CMAJ published an editorial, and health policy collumnist Andre Picard followed up with an article in the Globe and Mail about parking issues, the city has responded! Mom is feeling very happy that some action was taken."
"She is still saving to pay the four hundred and fifty dollar ticket if it comes to that. No court date has yet been set. But she says she almost doesn't mind paying now that something was done."
"Thank you for the platform your show provided. I'm sure it was the catalyst more so than her letter. Sincerely, Kira."
Kira and Pamela, the congratulations go to the two of you for your persistence. On our hospital parking show, a spokesperson for the consumer watchdog group Which? in the UK told how it embarrassed hospitals there into doing better.
"Don't just complain and do nothing about it," Which? spokesperson Jennie Driscoll told WCBA back in October of this year. "Anybody having a problem, push back and tell them what you thought was wrong."
If you have your own 'push back' story about hospital parking, post to this blog or write to email@example.com.