HOUSTON – Nate and Christina Cloutier try to spend every minute they have making their 2-year-old son Kennedy forget his pain.
Kennedy is battling a rare form of cancer with only a 30% chance of surviving.
”My son is diagnosed with ATRT. It’s a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer that attacks children under three years of age,” Christina said.
The Cloutiers are already facing astronomical medical bills, but now they have a new problem to worry about... a 27% increase in parking fees at the Texas Medical Center parking lots. This is an issue for the family because they have to visit the parking lots sometimes four or five times a week to care for their son.
How does the family feel about the increase in pricing?
”It’s not fair. You shouldn’t have to worry about paying for parking when your child is sick. That’s the least of your worries, and you shouldn’t have to worry about getting out of the parking garage,” Christina said.
On Jan. 1, 2023, The Texas Medical Center, which serves 10 million patients a year and has over 100,000 medical workers, suddenly raised its parking fee from $15 to $19 for people parking 10 hours or more a day.
It’s the second time the TMC has raised rates in the last five years.
Why did TMC raise parking rates again?
KPRC 2 Investigates asked several times on Monday for an interview with TMC officials to ask why the massive health system would do this, especially when the price of just about everything is skyrocketing because of inflation.
The hospital released the following statement, which reads, in part:
“TMC did raise parking rates on January 1, 2023, for the top rate band (10 - 24 hours). This was decided due to the cost increase in operating the parking program. We are still within the competitive pricing rates for the area in and around our campus.”
Richard Rogers is one of 80 volunteer drivers for Houston Ground Angels, a charity that saves patients the cost of parking at the TMC by providing them with free rides to and from the medical center.
He also feels the hike in parking fees at the medical center is unfair and unjust for patients already struggling with huge medical bills.
”It simply puts a lot more financial pressure on people who are already burdened. These are families that are not going to be able to get a bank loan or max out a credit card that’s already maxed out,” Richard said.
If you are struggling to pay the parking fees at TMC, we do have a couple of solutions for you.
1. Contact The Candle Lighters, a charity that provides families battling cancer in children with vouchers that will help pay for parking at the medical center.
2. Houston Ground Angels is a group of volunteer drivers who will provide needy families with rides to and from the medical center. (Houston Ground Angels is a charitable group that is in need of more volunteers to help with the program).