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Hospital considers parking fee hike

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Dryden Regional Health Centre. File Photo

The Dryden Regional Health Centre has floated increasing parking fees to help fund an expected $200,000 to $300,000 shortfall in capital infrastructure for next year.

Parking currently contributes $50,000 to $70,000 to the hospital’s general revenues. Its administration is considering investing in an upgrade to parking infrastructure and reallocating profits toward the hospital’s foundation, which needs $600,000 to $700,000 to fund new equipment and building upgrades.

“We’re not going to have the money we really want to reinvest in our building and our equipment over this period of austerity that we’re in right now and we’re looking at options as to how we can do that,” said hospital chief executive officer, Wade Petranik. “Generally what the government expects is that you’d supplement that with fundraising in the local community, foundations and those sorts of things. We recognize there are challenges in our community in terms of supporting fundraising.”

In 2010, the hospital became the first site in the city to begin charging for parking. It is now considering investing in upgrading its parking system as it increases fees.

“It’s a challenge in Dryden because we don’t even have parking meters,” expressed hospital board chair, Bob Stevens. “It’s kind of hard to go to the hospital and have to be charged for parking. In this day and age, in tight times, the ministry is really encouraging us that we should be looking at all sources of revenue.”

The Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora underwent a similar venture in 2008, investing $175,000 for a system that charges hourly rates rather than a flat entry fee. Parking revenues continue to pay off that expense but the medium-sized hospital has directed the majority of that income into general revenues.

“The new system does generate significantly more revenue for the hospital so it was a way of helping to mitigate our projected budget shortfall in that and future years without having to directly affect patient services,” explained Cindy Gasparini, the vice president of finance at the Kenora hospital, admitting many people are still slow to accept the concept. “We try to reason with them that it is a small, indirect cost to pay to receive healthcare services and that the hospital depends very much on this revenue to ensure that all patient services are maintained and that we don’t have to cut valuable services to address funding shortfalls.”

Dryden’s hospital still doesn’t know its final budget for 2012-2013 but is running $21,000 under budget up to the end of January. For the second year in a row, the Ministry of Health and the North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) have asked administration to present a budget with a zero per cent funding increase, despite contractually obligated salary increases the hospital will pay to organized labour. Non-unionized workers and administration staff have had salaries frozen since 2010.

Due to time constraints, that budget was sent to the LHIN on Mar. 1, without the hospital board’s formal approval.

“The times are different than you’d normally expect,” Stevens explained. “We haven’t even been given our allocation for the year that is 90 per cent up. It’s a difficult time. There will probably be some things that are different from the norm but senior management does the best they can given what they’re given and the way the LHINs are operating, it’s a challenge for us.”

By Jon Thompson


2 thoughts on “Hospital considers parking fee hike

  1. What’s that you say? Raise the parking fees to pay for income-tax-funded healthcare? How about doing some long-term planning that will permit FREE parking?

    After falsely claiming that parking on a street bordering the hospital is causing nightmares for local residents on only one side of a street, now “they” want to raise the rates for the very people who may be least able to afford to go to a hospital. No public transit, exorbitant user fees, ridiculous cash grabs, parking tickets – all for what? Get out into the world and take a look around at what’s happening in other cities and towns and stop burying your head in the sand like you have for the last 40 years. In other words, get progressive.

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