Parking at Saint Charles Hospital: A Horrible First Impression

Saint Charles Hospital exists in an urban location with almost no room left for expansion in all directions. Parking is at a premium every day and is very limited. In today’s environment with a strong focus on patient experience many visitors are frustrated before they step out of the vehicle to enter the building for that day’s visit.

Saint Charles Hospital’s (SCH) campus is currently 94% developed with little opportunity for expansion of the campus footprint in all directions.  A component of SCH’s master facility plan development incorporates a near future (3-5 year) strategy for replacement of the structurally obsolete 900+ vehicle parking ramp structure that connects to both the hospital and a medical professional building on the next block.  In recent years, SCH implemented valet and visitor-focused parking and covered patient discharge initiatives within the ramp to accommodate increased growth.

To offset the current shortfall of parking, SCH currently rents approximately 100 parking spaces about a mile away ($36,000 per year) and utilizes a shuttle bus ($120,000 per year) to transport employees to and from the hospital and professional building.   Further, hospital employees utilize on-street parking via the neighborhood streets on a daily basis, congesting the area and causing much dissatisfaction by SCH neighbors.  The future replacement structure’s design goals will target accommodation of visitor, patient and associate parking and reduction of on-street neighborhood parking by associates.

Due to the current shortfall in parking spaces many visitors are unable to park in the ramp and must use valet to access the hospital’s services.  SCH’s valet operation also struggles due to the lack of parking and the valet experience for patients and visitors suffers as a result.  This problem has a direct correlation on patient satisfaction scores at the hospital and has been a continuous challenge for administration.   While efforts have been made to purchase property in the near vicinity of the hospital to increase surface parking options, all attempts have been blocked by local neighborhood supporters / politicians who do not want their neighborhood turned into a parking lot.

Any ideas for improved patient experience with this situation would be greatly appreciated.  The ultimate solution is replacement of the parking ramp structure which is several years away and will bring with it some larger challenges during the transition.

SCH Neighborhood View


Capacity problems in the OR


Managing a Manager

Participant comments on Parking at Saint Charles Hospital: A Horrible First Impression

  1. I really enjoyed this dilemma. Hard to come up with any sensible solutions not knowing the local situation. Made me think about the Breakfast at Paramount case, even though I am not sure your hospital offers the same experience that makes people want to wait before being able to park their car. I will give it a try. About the neighborhood not being cooperative, isn’t there anything you have to offer as being part of that community? Can you get them involved? Can they be made part of the solution? If you can get them involved, would they for example be willing to rent out their driveway during day time when they go to work to your staff as part of their commitment to your hospital? Maybe you can organize a town hall meeting with the neighborhood and invite them to think with you about possible solutions. Can you make a deal with patients and Uber? We pay for (part of) your trip or you get credits/discount. Or can you set up some kind of taxiservice yourself, with volunteers for example? Maybe it is possible to separate visitors and patients? Avoid peaks in visiting hours by widening them or skipping visiting hours during peaks. Can you make staff carpool as much as possible? And last but not least, what struck me is that there is a physician lot, would the be willing to give it up for the greater good of your patients needing to park?

  2. Erik, thank you for the response. I have some responses to your questions:
    – There is a local neighborhood block club and we do utilize them to develop support for initiatives with limited success. I will explore the driveway rental idea at the next meeting.
    – Uber is not currently available in this city. It is also illegal for us to pay for patients to come to the hospital. We can pay their way home though.
    – We could offer some incentives for carpooling.
    – There is a physician lot and we have explored this, but that is not an option right now.

  3. I agree with Erik – working with the local neighbors/politicians will be important. How do you get employees from parking on the street? Is there a compromise somewhere in there…local, temporary parking lot for you…no on street parking of employees for them?

    Is the ramp for patients/visitors only?

  4. This is without any doubt a very frustrating situation, while such a banal problem actually will surely influence patient / visitor satisfaction

    What strikes me in your case is that there seems to be no policy to disencourage the use of the automobile as such. Is it not-done to talk about measures to encourage the use of public transport by employees or going to work with a bike ? I don’t know of course the situation in West London (?), but we are talking ‘2017’ i.e. an era in which corporations start to feel responsible for the trias ‘people, planet and profit’.

    Not as severe as SCH, but our hospital had the same problem and is now for some years trying actively to get employees out of their cars. And there is a change noticeble. But maybe we had a cultural advantage from the start; in the Netherlands, employees are probably more willing to travel with a bycicle than the British…

  5. Many urban hospitals face this dilemma. Investing millions of dollars into a parking garage never seems like a great idea where limited capital is needed to fund clinical equipment. Is there any opportunity to provide incentives to employees who use alternative transportation options (public transportation, car pooling, etc.)?

Leave a comment