CHAPEL HILL — An Apex woman whose husband is being treated for cancer at UNC Hospitals says she faces hundreds of dollars in parking fees in the coming weeks because the university does not offer discounts like the states other big hospitals.
Linda Beckett, whose husband will be an inpatient for up to two months while he undergoes chemotherapy, says she must drive in daily to help care for him. If she parks in one of the hospital visitors decks the next two months, she will have to pay $8 a day, or close to $500.
Im almost 70 years old, and I cant afford to pay $500, she said.
Cancers a big money maker for the hospital. So why dont they give the patients a little bit of a break on the parking?
At Duke Hospital, Beckett could buy a 10-day pass for $25, paying $2.50 a day. The pass offers a significant discount over the regular $2 hourly fee or $6 daily rate, Duke spokeswoman Sarah Avery said in an email.
In Chapel Hill, a UNC Hospitals spokeswoman confirmed the $8 daily rate but said the university sets parking rates, not the hospital, and that hospital social workers routinely assist patients who need help with food, shelter and transportation.
It (parking) gets discussed all the time, Karen McCall, spokeswoman for UNC Health Care, said Friday. We do help pay for parking for some families in need. ... Rather than giving across-the-board discounts, we target those families and patients who are most in need.
Beckett, who is retired, said she has temporarily arranged to park for free at the nearby SECU Family House and take a bus to the hospitals, but it doesnt always fit her schedule. She said the issue affects older couples like her husband and her, as well as families with young children.
Some of them are here for months, and they (the parents) do the lions share of the care, she said.
McCall referred more questions to Randy Young, spokesman for the UNC Department of Public Safety, which includes parking.
He noted the $8 per day maximum charge is for patient/visitor lots on the southern part of campus only and that lots farther out cost $1.50 per hour with no daily maximum.
Also, the hospitals can suggest cheaper alternatives to parking directly across Manning Drive in the Dogwood Patient/Visitor Deck, such as numerous park-and-ride lots that cost $1 a day with free shuttles to campus, he said.
Parking rates vary
The N.C. Hospital Association does not have a breakdown of hospital parking fees across the state, but calls to major hospitals found several that charge far less than UNC for long-term visitors.
At Duke, where parking is also managed by the university, the discount coupons can be used in parking decks that serve Duke Hospital and clinics: the deck on Trent Drive for the Duke South clinics; the main hospital parking deck at the intersection of Erwin and Fulton; and the deck at the Duke North Pavilion.
Parking is free at Duke Regional Hospital (formerly Durham Regional Hospital), as McCall said it is at UNCs new medical office building in Hillsborough, down the street from Durham Technical Community Colleges Orange County campus.
In Wake County, at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, part of UNC Health Care, parking is free. At WakeMed Raleigh Campus, an all-day pass in two decks costs $6; a 7-day pass, $18. At WakeMed Cary Hospital, parking is free.
In Charlotte, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center charges a flat parking fee of $3 a day whether someone is there for 20 minutes or 24 hours. Patients can come and go within a 24-hour period by showing their receipt, spokeswoman Caryn Klebba said. Discounted passes are available: five days for $10, and free parking is offered to family members after 30 days for long-term patients.
In Winston-Salem, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center charges $1 per hour up to five hours and a flat $5 fee for five to 24 hours, with a $10 discount pass good for seven days of unlimited parking, she said.