NEWS

Richmond widow racks up $1,800 hospital parking bill

06/20/2013 01:11 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 05:12 EDT
A Richmond widow — furious at racking up nearly $1,800 in hospital parking fees while visiting her dying son and husband — says hospital parking should be free.

But the health authority says that money is needed to pay for operating costs.

Anne Graham lost her son Bruce to lymphoma, in October. Then her husband Don died from bone cancer in March.

The 82-year old would visit every day for months, driving to Richmond Hospital to see her husband, and into Vancouver to be with her son at St. Paul’s, always fretting over how long she would be, and how much she was paying.

"For people like myself, that are facing death, it's an added stress and an added strain to your day to be worrying about such a thing as parking," Graham said.

In 2012, she spent $1,400 on hospital parking and almost $400 this year.

When she complained to the B.C. government, she was refunded only $700, and told the fees were needed to pay operational costs like snow removal and painting.

"I don't see why they should be expecting to pay for programs on the backs of the people who are going to visit their sick people... I just think it's wrong," Graham said.

Geoff Roberts, the director of parking for Lower Mainland health authorities, says discounts are available for cases of hardship and others.

"We essentially extended the discount that she would have ordinarily been entitled to had she reached out to our offices for that assistance," Roberts said.

The only two hospitals where patients and visitors get free parking are in Delta and Mission, where municipal bylaws prohibit pay parking for hospitals.

Graham says that model should be the norm, and urges other B.C. residents to complain to their health authorities.

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