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Parking from a Patient and Caregiverís Perspective

August, 2022

Damon Noga

Denison Parking has had a multi-decade partnership with a large hospital and healthcare campus that includes pediatric specialties, one of the state’s top maternity wards, many specialists, and destination services.


At the campus, parkers are patients, caregivers, and visitors experiencing emotions ranging from trauma to joy, or simply the stress of getting to an appointment on time. Whether self-parking or using valet services, many of these parkers are unfamiliar with the area, having been referred to a specialist.


You cannot blame a parker for taking advantage of convenient options.


Adding to the complexity, the hospital campus is found within a densely populated urban setting with a nearby university which presents additional parking demands and unique requirements. Despite the many competing and complementary priorities, meeting this mix of diverse needs was maintained until a notable change occurred.


The hospital system made a strategic shift to provide better care for maternal and newborn patients; they moved their labor and delivery unit, and maternal care from the adult hospital to the pediatric center. Other departments switched places to the newly opened site. 


Parking Availability Challenges


Prior to the change in philosophy, there were times when employees, patients, or visitors had to park in locations that were not proximate to their desired entry point. At times, employee parking pushed patients and their caregivers further from their appointment destination. No one visiting or working in a hospital likes to face challenges in finding an available space, but with increasing frequency, we needed to redirect parkers to a nearby facility that was being underutilized. When this occurred, patients were not only frustrated before they arrived at their appointments, they were also often late.


Valet Services Provide Relief but a Tradeoff


You cannot blame a parker for taking advantage of convenient options. Some parkers recognized the opportunity to go straight to their destination while leaving the parking to valet staff. Additionally, returning parkers who had been frustrated by a previous lack of self-park options went directly to valet services.


The valet was intended to supply added convenience for less ambulatory patients, or those needing extra help with physical requirements or time-sensitive needs. As a result, with pricing intended to not deter usage for those most in need, the extra volume became counter-productive. 


Students Poached Parking Spaces


As much of the parking around the hospital was also intended to support the student population for the university, there were times, for example, at the start of school, when students would further place pressure on the availability of parking as they utilized many of the same assets as the employees.


The multiple users and different demand characteristics created unique pressures on the capacity of the campus’ lots and garages.


Parking Committee Solutions from the Patient and Caregiver Perspective


With a catalyst of an upcoming move in services between facilities, the hospital formed a multi-stakeholder parking committee, and Denison Parking, as the campus’ parking operator, was involved to support a change in strategy for parking. As shared by Denison’s President, Perry Griffith:


“As a group, we collectively asked: What if we reimagined the experience by focusing first on the patients’ parking availability and proximity? What would have to be true to make that a reality? How could we get patients closer to the door where they access their care? We agreed this was our priority and as a result started with that as our mission. 


We began by building a bottom’s up analysis. Rethinking demand, not by just looking at data of when people arrived and parked, but by when should they in an optimal world. We evaluated this from a patient, employee, and visitor perspective. Not reviewing what is true, but what could be true. 


Our solution blended the perfect world with the real world, realizing there are always tradeoffs with fixed assets. From strategic planning with the committee, comprised of a significant group of caregivers, university and patient focused stakeholders, we solved these issues not by adding a new garage or more staff, but by using what we had more wisely.”


Once the solution was decided upon and implemented, the improved availability of parking was immediate. The changes implemented supplied more convenience and certainty for patients, caregivers, and visitors. As a result, spaces were more readily available at each facility. Valet services returned to being used primarily by those who truly needed the service most.


The largest issues faced were resolved, which highlighted the necessity of considering parking as an essential part of any successful healthcare experience. The results, which incorporated views from many perspectives, proved that the patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives were critical to form the basis of a winning strategy. 


Please contact Damon Noga, National Vice President of Business Development, by email: dnoga@denisonparking.com 



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