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Hospital taking a second look at emergency pay parking system

A Langley woman wrote a letter to The Times earlier this month, complaining that she had been issued an $80 parking ticket in the LMH Emergency Dept. parking lot while she was inside with her injured son. Fraser Health Authority has since announced that it is looking at possible changes to its  pay parking system that will make it easier for people to avoid being ticketed while receiving care. - Langley Times file photo
A Langley woman wrote a letter to The Times earlier this month, complaining that she had been issued an $80 parking ticket in the LMH Emergency Dept. parking lot while she was inside with her injured son. Fraser Health Authority has since announced that it is looking at possible changes to its pay parking system that will make it easier for people to avoid being ticketed while receiving care.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Paid parking at Langley Memorial Hospital’s emergency is here to stay, but the Fraser Health Authority is looking at ways to make it easier for people to pay.

“We are considering implementing pay-by-phone at Langley,” said Geoff Roberts, director of parking and access with Fraser Health. The authority also recently installed an ATM-like pay parking system. The Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation is also opening up a 710-stall parking lot just across the street.

“The main rationale behind emergency pay parking is to encourage short term, high turn over.

“Our rates are higher and restrictions are more aggressive in emergency because our hope is people will get into emergency, and then move their vehicle to the longer term parking lot.”

Paying for parking during an emergency health situation has struck a chord with Langley residents who were quick to respond to one mother’s letter about her $80 parking ticket when she rushed her toddler to emergency. She paid the ticket early, reducing it to $48 instead, but FHA is reimbursing her those funds.

And voiding tickets is often the case in those kinds of emergencies, said Roberts.

“We are in the care business, not in the revenue business,” he said.

Su VanderHorst rushed her four-year-old son to emergency with a serious head injury at Langley Memorial Hospital recently.

When she had arrived at the ER, the boy was vomiting, bleeding, and in obvious pain. He was immediately brought in to see doctors.

Numerous stitches and a couple of hours later, she returned to her vehicle, to find an $80 parking ticket.

“Security will assist you or hospital administration so you won’t get a ticket or if you do get a ticket, in those cases, take the ticket to admin and they will most likely void it,” Roberts said.

There is also a number to call on the back of tickets to ask for it to be voided.

Fraser Health owns the 290-stall paid parking lot at LMH.

It says one-third of revenue goes to offset maintenance, like landscaping, snow removal and security costs. The remaining two-thirds goes back into FHA general revenues.

Paying for parking at hospitals has always been a hot topic. In Delta, the council passed a bylaw banning pay parking at its hospital.

Mayor Lois Jackson said patients who receive visitors have a better outcome and paid parking reduces visits.

Staff at LMH as well as volunteers all pay for parking. Monthly and weekly passes are available at a discounted rate, Roberts said. There are also senior discounts.

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