HOUSTON – Doctors, nurses and the other healthcare professionals working on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus have been forced to change their daily routines. Most healthcare professionals are used to long work hours, but how they travel to work has changed.
Lavelle Ward, a healthcare industry retiree, said his friends are stuck in an impossible situation.
"I was talking to a nurse friend of mine and she said I would like to not take the bus and the train to work because of the possibility of getting contaminated,” he said.
Then, METRO canceled many bus routes. Ward said his friends are now driving to work and paying to park.
“Because she has to drive to work, it’s now costing her $13 a day to park, that’s $65 or so and we’re already asking them to do a lot of extra work,” Lavelle said.
Lavelle said doctors and nurses should be able to park for free. He said he was speaking out on behalf of family and friends because many of them were unwilling to voice their opinions due to fear of retaliation.
“If you’re a doctor or nurse, you don’t want to get on somebody’s list just like in any business,” Lavelle said.
KPRC reached out to the Texas Medical Center, a non-profit organization that operates parking lots for the hospitals. TMC said the parking garages are their main source of income and are unable to offer free parking.
In a written statement TMC said they would offer discounted monthly rates and daily rates for garages that had the capacity:
To help reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 by social distancing, TMC has recently reduced its shuttle capacity by 50%. Our shuttle operator has also increased the cleaning frequency of all surfaces on the shuttles. The existing parking inventory on the main campus is still not enough to handle all the demands of our remote parkers, so we have to continue to shuttle remote parkers into the main campus.
To aid our member institutions and individual parking customers, TMC will be reducing all contract parking rates by 50%, for the month of April. All customers that pre-pay at the beginning of the month will be charged the reduced rate of 50% for the facility they park in. All customers that receive a monthly invoice will also see the 50% reduced rate for every active contract on their account.
To assist staff and visitors that do not have a monthly parking contract, we have reduced the maximum daily rates. Additionally, we have extended the grace period in all main campus parking facilities from 20 minutes to 60 minutes. Individuals that enter a parking facility can exit free of charge within 60 minutes.
The Texas Med Center added they would continue evaluating their policies and make changes if needed.