“I was walking along one of the main floors in the Helipad car park building at the very busy Auckland Hospital one Wednesday morning, when I saw a large SUV drive through the entrance and swing down the lane towards me. I was just doing a walk through the car park to see how the day was turning out and noticed that the SUV was driving on the wrong side of the road. As the SUV got closer, I could see that the driver who was a female, had a cup of coffee in one hand, resting on the steering wheel, and the other hand was touching up make up on the face in the rear view mirror. Absolutely staggered to see this I motioned for the vehicle to stop. I leaned toward the driver side window and said, “You should watch how you drive your vehicle in here, it’s a Hospital car park and some people may not be able to get out of the way as fast as I could”. The lady promptly scowled at me and said, “I am a doctor and I work here. If you don’t watch what you saying I will report you to the Chief of Surgery!” and drove off, leaving me with an open mouth.”
Like at any other property, be it a shopping centre or an airport or a commercial building, the customer’s experience of a hospital often begins from the moment he or she enters the car park. Warwood goes on to point out that in the US, as the hospital system matures and in the face if increased competition, hospitals are actively seeking to attract patients to their facility. An environment such as this would put the customer back in its rightful role of key player in the success of a hospital, and not just another number in a queue.
We do understand that attracting good staff (particularly doctors) is also a very important consideration for hospitals as without them there would be no patients. Therefore the skill in car park management in these institutions needs to consider all the different users and, where possible, allow for specific allocations to their different needs. Everyone wants the spot right next to the lift or the entrance and most have a good reason for that, and it’s up to the person or team responsible for parking management and operations to ensure the good spaces are allocated in a fair way and that sufficient space is provided overall to satisfy reasonable demand, whilst providing for incentives to use alternative transport options.