On more than one occasion in my blog, I have bemoaned the cost of hospital parking. I have significant medical challenges; must I pay so much for parking each time I take my lemon of a body for a tune up? Despite my whining and complaining, the cost of parking has not gone down. In fact, it has gone up to $14.25 maximum per day.
Long before I started whining, an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal sparked this debate. Parking costs were labelled user fees that impeded patients’ and families’ access to medical care. I can attest that being sick costs enough without adding the high cost of parking.
Ontario’s recent freezing of its hospital parking fees reignited this debate across the country. Calgary’s local newspaper has printed many letters to the editor on this topic. I didn’t appreciate the writer who told sick people to stop griping because hospital parking doesn’t cost that much. Let’s see how you feel if your health ever declines and you too have to add an unexpected line to your illness budget.
Another letter asserted the funds were needed to cover costs of maintaining the parking facilities. This is a fair statement but it didn’t sway me one way or the other. Sure, someone has to pay for maintenance costs, but need it be me, or, more often, J., who is more dextrous with her credit card?
But one physician wrote a letter that stopped my griping in its tracks. He views parking as a small price to pay for free world-class medical care. He’s right. For $14.25 maximum per visit, Dr. Blood, a highly trained specialist and a Canadian expert in the CML field, oversees my care. Thanks to her, I’ve been living with leukemia for 3-1/2 years now. Then there’s Dr. Foie Gras, who, despite our infrequent $14.25 meetings, remembers my extensive medical history in detail and has kept my liver happy for the past 8 months. Add in all the expensive tests I’ve undergone to ensure my health and well being, and the intermittent hospital stays, which are certainly far from cheap. Finally, there are my cancer-killing drugs, four little white pills, which would bankrupt me if the Province of Alberta did not pay every cent.
Thanks to that doctor’s insightful letter, I’ve changed my parking tune. I’ll now gladly pay for parking if it leaves more money for funding the hospitals and medical staff who monitor my care. My parking costs are my tiny donation toward all the health care dollars I consume. In this context, parking fees are a small price to pay, don’t you agree?
Anyhow, there are so many better ways to direct my negative energy these days. I could, for example, bemoan the impending series finale of Downton Abbey. Yes, I soon may learn whether Edith will ever be happy, whether Lady Mary’s newfound love will finally kill her mean streak, and whether Mr. Carson will ever get off his high horse.
Tomorrow, when I go to the Cancer Centre, I’ll pay for parking with a smile, knowing I am in good hands. Or maybe I’ll let J. pay. All the more reason to smile.