Cantabrians struggle to find accessible and nearby hospital parking.
*Ashleigh Row gets up at five-thirty every morning. She has her uniform set out on her bed and lunch packed from the night before. The drive from her house in Lincoln to the Christchurch Hospital takes around twenty minutes. At 6 am she arrives at the car park. For an hour she sits in her car waiting for her 7 am shift to start. She described times when the limited parking has forced her to uber to work, costing over $10.00 each way. Ashleigh is a student nurse doing placement, where she constantly struggles to find hospital parking.
Ashleigh is not the only one affected by the parking shortage.
The parking shortfall around the hospital is creating challenges for Canterbury District Health Board employees, visitors, and patients.
The 2011 earthquake ruined car parking buildings and sites around the city. CBD construction has replaced a large proportion of roadside parking.
In previous months people have missed appointments and some staff have been assaulted while walking from their car to work.
Although the Ministry of Health is in charge of a long-term solution for the city, the CDHB has invested $2 million in various temporary car parking options.
Park & Ride
Although Park and Ride works for many, CCS Disability Action Regional Facilities Manager, BJ Clarke highlighted it isn’t user-friendly for a large chunk of our society…. the disabled.
According to Stats NZ, one in four New Zealanders have a disability. This can range from physical impediments to heart conditions.
“If you look at it from the hospital view, most of the people that are going there have some impediment, that’s why they are going there. So you could argue that that’s an area that should have way more accessible car parking.”
He suggested that after the earthquake, Christchurch has the opportunity to be the most accessible city in the world and getting basic parking right, is a start.
Like Clarke, Chief executive of Age Concern Canterbury, Simon Templeton said even though the CDHB has provided temporary parking solutions, these should be accessible for all.
“There have been falls, so some people have fallen and injured themselves in where the car park and ride goes.”
He said lots of elderly are cancelling their outpatient appointments because of inaccessible parking. Templeton added those people are not only missing out on the opportunity but also preventing others from taking their place.
A specially paved area in the Deans Ave car park is just one suggestion from Templeton to ensure the service can be used by everyone.
The CDHB receives around 5-10 complaints each week specifically about the Deans Ave parking surface. They forward them to the property manager, Alan Edge of Global Edge Properties. Edge said they monitor the grounds but it will never be ash felted as it’s only temporary.
Extended interview: CDHB Daniel Park
The staff Park and Ride has not come as a surprise for Christin Watson, New Zealand Nurses Organisation worker.
He has been campaigning for this for a long time.
Initially, he hoped the staff shuttle would run alongside the patient service which has been running since 2014. However, the CDHB soon announced this would be limited strictly to patients and visitors. Watson said many were bitter over the announcement but they are pleased their requests have finally been heard.
He said they have been trying to make to most of the situation by carpooling, busing and biking but that isn’t always an option for some staff.
Although battling parking problems themselves, Watson said nurses have seen the effect it is having on the public.
“People have family in ICU and are worrying about getting a park. Family members can’t see sick relatives. It’s a barrier for people accessing health care, and we have a professional obligation to highlight the issue.”
He mentioned that the Christchurch City Councils up and coming construction projects will only magnify the situation.
Alongside the Christchurch City Council, Otakaro Limited is building the Metro Sports Facility, an aquatic and recreation centre bordering Moorhouse Avenue, Stewart Street, St Asaph Street and Antigua Street.
Another report by Development Christchurch recommended a DBOOT, where a private developer, builds, owns and operates a parking building on CDHB land. After a set amount of time, the building ownership and operations is passed on to the CCC/ CDHB. It concluded that a DBOOT would not require the CDHB any cost until it takes over the car park operations.
Both options are promising but CDHB CEO David Meates said Cantabrians will not see any permanent solutions until after 2019.
For Ashleigh, this is frustrating. Hospital parking is an added stress she said she shouldn’t have to worry about.
In the meantime, she will continue her early morning starts, expensive uber rides and can only hope that her parking struggle will be resolved soon.
*Names have been changed to protect a person's privacy.