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Making it Easy

“I’m from the bureaucracy and I’m here to make things easier for you”. In a system that functions on meaningful consultation and two-way dialog, these could be comforting words, rather than ones that cause news articles, headaches and other pains.

Concerns raised over parking changes at Cross Cancer Institute – Global Edmonton

It’s my first blog post of the new year and a story I’ve been wanting to comment on for awhile now, as soon as free time allowed.

Last winter I volunteered to drive a relative to an appointment at the Leduc hospital. I’m not particularly experienced with medical facilities outside of Edmonton, so it was a new experience to me. Upon arriving I proceeded to do the first thing that any Edmontonian would do, ascertain where to pay for parking. This is the moment where one truly realizes that they’re not in the big city anymore, parking is free. No attendant to pass on the way in or out, no machine to pay, run up to, run back to the car, and then run into in the building.

Getting in was as easy as could be.

Whether or not you’re charging visitors and patients for parking at a major medical facility, as an operator you should have one particular goal in mind – making entry and egress for people who aren’t exactly there to have a good time, as easy on them as possible.

If you’re a cancer patient bravely facing a terrible illness, a scared and ill individual arriving at an ER, or a friend, family member, or caretaker of said person, the least we can do as a society and a medical system is make the process of arriving and getting inside, the least of one’s problem.

Alas, the administration behind the scenes at the Cross Cancer Institute has stepped in to show exactly how to make things harder in order to make them “more convenient”. In this case, with the removal of a parking attendant in favor of a kiosk system.

Where patients and/or their families had the option of simply dropping the deposit in the hand of another human-being and going about their likely stressful, painful and draining business, they now have the added stress of dealing with a kiosk and more than likely, having to overpay thanks to uncertainty over how long their stay is going to be. This, in addition to now having to park, visit the kiosk, run back to the car and then in.

You might say I’m going off over something that’s not exactly a terrible inconvenience, but I would strongly disagree.

I’m fortunate to be able to say that the Cross Cancer Institute is a building I’m not familiar with. Hospital visits for familiar reasons however, I’ve done my fair share of. A couple of times as a rattled and frightened patient but mostly as a worried and concerned relative. I can think of a number of scenarios where a situation like this, particularly at a major medical centre where patients can be found transporting themselves, can add unnecessary uncertainty and stress to the daily routine of someone who surely doesn’t need to bear anymore than they already do.

The obvious is, of course, not knowing the length of your appointment and overpaying to avoid having to worry about receiving a ticket or making your way back down to the parkade in the middle of things.

If you’re a relative or a caregiver, having a parking attendant to deal with at the end of the day relieves you from having to leave the patient alone in the vehicle or sitting in a wheelchair while you take care of this annoyance.

It adds more stress to the patient and their caregivers. It may be an easy task running to a kiosk and back again, or multiple times during the day. But if you’re ill, or exhausted, or physically run-down from the effects of facing illness or caring for someone who is ill, it’s an added and unnecessary burden.

To leave you with a personal example, on one trip to a scheduled appointment, a family member forget her purse at home. With a parking attendant on hand, it was a simple fix. They simply left their plate number with the attendant and paid later.

Finally, it’s simply safer for all involved to have a parking attendant on site. It’s a set of eyes on the site, not just for crime prevention, but to provide assistance should a medical incident, or a slip and fall occur within their line of sight.

The bureaucracy and facility administration can certainly study the issue, but in the meantime, put the attendant back in the booth and make these trips to the Cross Cancer Institute just a little bit easier for all involved.