Excessive parking rate at UNC Hospitals could be easily corrected

January 20, 2014 

UNC Hospitals is a pretty healthy organization, with far-flung branches and a never-ending supply of patients. And those patients, to be sure, get excellent care.

But what’s not so excellent is the $8-a-day parking fees that UNC Hospitals charges in Chapel Hill. That’s a pretty stiff fee for just a day, but for family members going to care for someone every day for weeks, it literally adds up. One elderly woman whose husband is being treated for cancer estimated that driving him over to the hospital facilities daily for a couple of months could result in a parking tab of $500.

UNC Hospitals notes that parking fees are set by the university, and the university’s Public Safety department notes there are cheaper lots farther out from the hospital facilities and park-and-ride lots that are also less expensive. That’s true, but those alternatives add a hardship to families already under stress with older patients to look after or young children who have to be in the hospital for days.

A parking fee may seem like a small matter to hospital officials with more serious concerns. But by cutting or eliminating fees, UNC Hospitals and UNC-Chapel Hill could make a lot of friends and, in the case of people with limited incomes, help people in a very tangible way.

Caring for someone in the hospital is a traumatic and tiring experience. For a medical facility to take away one small portion of the stress would be a strong symbol and a gracious step. Many area hospitals offer free parking or, at the very least, discounts for long-term situations.

In Raleigh, at Rex Hospital, many visitors comment on the fact that parking is free. Rex, by the way, is part of UNC Hospitals.

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