In a facility filled with surgical devices, radiology machines and lab equipment, it’s pretty easy to overlook asphalt.
But, officials at Memorial Hospital recognize that all the fancy equipment inside the building means little if people can’t find a place to park.
Memorial recently hired Walker Consultants to perform a parking study for the hospital. The study looked at meeting current demand, developing an strategy do deal with parking during the current construction process, and setting a goal for spaces to meet growth in the next five years.
The hospital is currently in the process of constructing new inpatient and outpatient facilities, some of which will eliminate existing parking spaces. During construction 131 parking spaces will be lost, but 52 of those will be available again after the project is completed, meaning 79 net spaces will be lost after the project. But other areas around the hospital campus will be used to expand parking, including a lot on 11th Street and an expansion at the Morey parking lot which will add almost 120 spaces.
Memorial Health Executive Vice President Spence Fisher said the consulting firm looked at patient, staff and physician growth, as well as analyzing parking needs at specific entrances to the hospital. For example, the parking needs near an inpatient facility will not turn over as quickly as those near outpatient or lab entrances.
Before construction, Memorial was served by 695 parking spaces. After the construction is completed, including the 11th Street and Morey lot expansions, the facility will have 735 spaces.
The consulting firm then analyzed actual lot use on a random day and also estimated demand for a hypothetical high demand day. On the actual day surveyed, 495 spaces were used, leaving the facility with an ample cushion of spaces.
The firm estimated that on a day where employees and patients approached maximum usage, 584 spaces would be needed, still under the available 735 post-construction spaces.
Fisher said when the firm analyzed potential growth for the hospital, parking was “probably good for five years.” Figures shows moderate growth in usage would still create a need of less than 735 spaces. One scenario, however, showed estimates for potential high growth rates in hospital use that could push the parking demand to 754 spaces.
Fisher also explained that specific entrances to the hospital showed varying need in the next five years. While the lots near the inpatient tower, obstetrics department and emergency department appear adequate, the lot near the outpatient facilities was listed as “problematic.”
The consulting firm also listed a series of short- and long-term recommendations for the Memorial’s parking needs.
-Consider restriping the parking area to make more spaces.
-Develop a new lot (60-70 spaces) near London Avenue.
-Relocate employee parking to the new lot on 11th Street.
-Utilize parking attendants on golf carts.
-More strict enforcement of parking policy, including registering employee vehicles, surprise audits and naming/branding all parking areas.
-Consider off-site parking on Morey Drive for employees.
-Consider reconfiguration of Maryhaven parking lot.
-Look for opportunities to acquire adjacent properties.
-Possible shuttle service and/or a parking garage in the distant future.
Memorial CEO Chip Hubbs said the hospital is already looking at relocating employee parking to make spaces closer to the facility available to patients.
He said the hospital has also acquired two, six-passenger golf carts will be used to transport people from the parking lot to the facility during the period of construction, when parking is a bit more confusing.
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