HOUSTON – Parking has become an unexpected financial burden for workers at the Texas Medical Center. The coronavirus crisis is straining the world's largest health complex.
KPRC 2 Investigates received several emails from medical personnel upset over having to pay to park in the TMC garages.
TMC officials said they hear the concerns of the workers. But, parking serves as the primary revenue generator for the medical complex, the Chief Investment and Planning Officer Tatianna Yale said.
Yale said officials are attempting to make it easier for the workers, who are risking their own lives to assist coronavirus patients.
"We're trying to reduce rates," Yale said on Thursday afternoon. "We are working with the institutions, and we are doing the best that we can do on the parking side."
Medical professionals don't have access to the same transportation options before the Stay Home, Work Safe order. Public transportation such as METRO and shutter services from off-site parking have changed or canceled trips, as the lawmakers push residents to due travel.
However, all of these changes are affecting those responsible for helping sick patients.
"They are telling us not to be in crowded areas and to keep our distance an everything, and the rail gets crowded in the mornings when everybody is coming in, or people are heading home from work," said Miguel about riding the METRO light rail. "I figured I'd just bite the bullet and pay to park."
Miguel is not alone; Claudia also has expressed concerns.
"It has been a little hard for us, having to pay parking driving down here because you don't want to take the METRO," she said.
However, the TMC has reduced rates by 50% at some parking garages.
"I completely understand, we are in a hard spot," Yale said.
Yale also expressed concerns regarding the TMC's financial fight ahead.
“For the month of April, we are not trying to make a profit on this,” she said. “We are trying to cover our expenses, make sure that we can maintain our employee salaries that are working, and then cover our debt, and then there is just no money left over.”
A bit of good news that has emerged. Rice University and Methodist collaborated to open up a new free lot Thursday morning in the football stadium's parking lot.
“It feels great not having to pay this every day,” Claudia said.