June 23, 2000

Patients, families to park for free at VUH

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Beginning July 1, parking at the hospital garage will be free to all patients and their families. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Patients, families to park for free at VUH

Beginning July 1, Vanderbilt University Hospital patients and their visitors will be able to park in the hospital garage free of charge.

The move to free parking is part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's continuing efforts to improve service and reflects the institution's commitment to providing the best health care in the region.

"No longer will patients pay for parking and no more will families be asked to pay for parking," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "Vanderbilt is one of the country's finest centers for medical care, education and research. However, when we talk with our patients and their families, one of the negative experiences they report is having to pay to park.

"We believe this initiative will go a long way toward easing at least one burden for our patients and their families."

The system being implemented will be similar to that employed at The Vanderbilt Clinic garage, which has offered validated free parking to clinic patients and visitors for several years.

Visiting relatives and friends will pull a normal parking ticket each time they enter the garage. As they make their way toward hospital units, they'll pass validation stations in the main reception areas of the hospital, clinic, Medical Center East, Medical Arts Building and the Village at Vanderbilt. Tickets will be validated using a special hole punch, leaving hole patterns that can be read by the garage's ticket collection system.

In addition, each hospital patient will receive two parking 'credit cards' during the admissions process. These access cards — preprogrammed for five free days of parking — are for immediate family members who expect to come and go frequently during the patient's hospital stay.

On weekends and nightly after 5 p.m. when the garage booths are closed, tickets will be dispensed that, when placed in a drop box next to the booth upon leaving, will automatically open the gate.

The system is designed to simplify the parking process for visitors and for medical center staff as well, said Gene Ornes, director of Medical Center Traffic and Parking.

"Nearly all of the forfeited parking revenues will be offset by eliminating traffic and parking staff reductions made possible by a new, completely electronic validation system," Ornes said.

According to Ornes, the parking management team will continue to collect daytime fees from students, vendors and miscellaneous campus visitors, and will monitor utilization to ensure that only patients and their visitors have access to parking validation.