Staff who work late shifts at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre say they want their safe, underground parking back.
An online petition at Care2.com has so far collected 371 names to keep underground parking open to after-hours staff.
One hospital worker said some staff were evicted from the underground parkade when the new outdoor parkade opened last week.
“The reason we like it is because a door opens and we go in and it closes. So it’s safer, especially in that neighbourhood,” said the hospital staff member who did not want her name used.
“The new parkade, anybody can go in there. They can just walk in. There’s no security. There’s buttons everywhere you can push, but chances are by the time security comes from the hospital, you’ve already been mugged.”
She said in 2011 a Red Deer hospital worker was mugged at a parking lot. Recently in Regina, a hospital employee was assaulted.
She said security is too busy to walk staff back and forth to the new parkade. Staff now try to walk together for protection.
Underground parking beneath Red Deer hospital used to be full and now it’s practically empty since the rules changed, she said.
She said parking officials told her after-hours, underground parking was now off-limits because there was no way to charge staff who use more than one parking lot at the hospital depending on the shift they work.
“It’s a dumb reason. Computers are made to be fixed. Figure it out. You’ve had this long,” said the employee who always had access to underground parking while working after regular business hours.
Construction started on the hospital’s new $44-million, five-level parkade in October 2014. The parkade, with 1,100 stalls, is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Public are allowed to park on the first two levels and still have access to underground parking.
New payment machines were installed in the parkade and inside the hospital for drivers to pay for parking. Weekly and monthly parking passes can be purchased from the new Parking Services office, located inside the parkade on the main level. Parking rates have not increased as a result of the parkade.
Kerry Bales, chief zone officer for Alberta Health Services Central Zone, said now that the new parkade is open, work is underway to determine where staff want to park.
“At the present time, we’re very aware that staff have raised some concerns. The intention is to make sure people have the best possible access to parking and we do want to make sure we’re fully utilizing every last stall in all capacity of that underground parking for all shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Bales said.
“Right now parking services is working through the details of how to make sure people continue to have that access and they’re going to be working directly with the staff to sort through those details on a case-by-case basis.”
He said there’s been no identified difference in safety related to parking at the hospital with proper lighting, monitoring, security, closed-circuit television cameras and safety walks in place.
Bales recommended if workers can’t access security staff to be walked to their car, they should speak with their local manager or parking services.
“If we found there was a consistent inability to be able to provide that service, we’d certainly have to take a look at that.”
For more information on the petition visit www.thepetitionsite.com/948/827/961/allow-staff-to-keep-the-under-ground-after-hours-parking.