Pay parking adds a burden

I have worked in health care for about 20 years as a Medical Laboratory Technologist

I am writing this letter about the proposed pay parking at the new Campbell River hospital.

I have worked in health care for about 20 years as a Medical Laboratory Technologist, and I have a daughter with a rare chronic illness who has been hospitalized numerous times, so I am very experienced with health care from an employee perspective and a patient perspective.

Currently I live in Pitt Meadows on the Mainland, but I am a frequent visitor to Campbell River, having grown up here, and my family has had to use the hospital facitlities here on many of our visits.

I am really sorry to hear that Island Health plans on implementing pay parking.  My daughter has required frequent hospital services at BC Children’s Hospital, The Royal Columbian Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and Ridge Meadows Hospital.  There is pay parking at all four of these hospitals. It becomes very expensive on a weekly basis when parking at all four of these places comes to about $15 per day. This is on top of the burden of having a family member who has expensive health needs anyway, such as feeding tubes, an elemental feeding pump, elemental formula, drug costs, etc.

Then there is the fact that I had to retire from my career early to stay home and care for my daughter, so we are now a one income family shouldering expensive medical costs. Pay parking at the hospital simply targets the more vulnerable people of society who can least afford it.

Another problem with pay parking, is that it actually drives revenue away from the hospital. People naturally want to reduce driving and parking costs, so they will go to where it is least expensive for them. The laboratory in hospitals has always been a revenue source for hospitals, with any payment left over from medical tests going back into the general revenue of the hospitals, so the lab actually ends up helping to fund surgeries and other hospital costs.

Once pay parking is introduced, people will simply go to the private labs for their blood/urine tests, helping to increase profits for the owners of Life Labs so that they can buy more expensive multi-million dollar homes. I once attended the Christmas party of an owner of a private lab in Vancouver, and his home was a multi-million dollar luxury property, compliments of all those people who preferentially visited his private lab for their lab services. So wouldn’t you rather your tax money go into the running of your hospital instead? If private X ray services are introduced into Campbell River, as they are on the Mainland here, you will also see people going to private X ray facilities where there is no pay parking, again reducing even more revenue from your hospital. Ditto for any hospital thrift shops or gift shops on site.

The one municipality here on the Mainland that refused to allow paid parking is Delta. They enacted a bylaw which does not allow pay parking at any hospital within their municipal boundaries. The reason given is that sick and injured people are shouldering enough of a financial burden without profiting off of them with pay parking at Delta hospitals.

Campbell River could enact the same bylaw. People travelling from all over the North Island to use the Campbell River Hospital are already shouldering enough of a financial burden with the high cost of illness or injury, travel costs to Campbell River, hotel costs and meal costs to be with their loved ones in a time of need. Why whack them with even more costs?

Please write to Island Health, your mayor, your MP and your MLA telling them that you don’t want paid parking at your new Campbell River Hospital. If the muicipality of Delta can do it, so can you.

Sandra Paulsen

Pitt Meadows