Oncology and dialysis patients at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance could soon have to pay for parking when they go for treatments; but not as soon as originally feared.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the CKHA, said about 150 such patients with the alliance were informed by letter in early August that effective Sept. 1, they would indeed have to pay to park when receiving their treatments. Funding that had covered such visits has run out.
“The hospital does charge for parking for patients, visitors and staff. We’ve been able to subsidize parking for oncology and dialysis patients. Unfortunately, the donations have been exhausted,” she said.
But Marshall said the date the patients will have to start paying to park has been pushed back two months to Nov. 1, and she sent out a letter late last week to let patients know of the change.
“I did go and meet with a fair number of our dialysis patients and they gave me some good feedback,” Marshall said.
At that time, discussions included the investigation into some form of means testing to assist individuals who will experience a significant financial hardship if they have to suddenly pay for parking for regular treatments at the hospital.
“When we realized that was going to take us a little longer to figure out, that’s when we issued the (parking) extension into November,” Marshall said.
Marshall estimates the financial impact for the 150 or so patients impacted – and not all of them come by personal vehicle for treatment – is about $50,000 a year.
And that is based on the use of 30-day parking passes. Marshall said the alliance has daily rates for parking, but it also has five-day, 10-day and 30-day passes that are all valid for one year from the date of purchase.
Dialysis patients may come for treatment three times a week. A 30-day pass would last them 10 weeks, she explained.
“We’re looking to implement equitable practises across the board for all our patient groups,” Marshall said. “We do have different rates for patients or family members who are required to come to the hospital for longer periods of time.”
She added the alliance is working with the Foundation of CKHA to see if there are any possible donors who would be able to support parking payment relief for cancer and kidney patients in a sustainable manner.
“We’ve had some outreach from the community wanting to support this,” she said. “We would not want to put in place something that would end up being withdrawn again.”