Beginning sometime this year, when is not clear, it’s going to get more expensive to visit PIH Health in Whittier — unless you’re walking.
The nonprofit hospital, which opened in Whittier 61 years ago, is going to charge $6 a day to park, Brent Melton, vice president of support services for PIH Health, said in an emailed statement.
While the gates have been installed, there is no set time for when the hospital will begin charging, Melton wrote. Those going to the Wells Medical Office Building next door also will have to pay.
The decision to charge for parking comes at a time of growth for the hospital: Good Samaritan Hospital of Los Angeles recently joined PIH Health’s integrated healthcare network which includes a hospital in Downey and its doctors’ group.
PIH Health is implementing a controlled parking plan to enhance security, Melton wrote, beginning with designated areas for physicians, staff and volunteers. The gated areas for patients and visitors are part of that plan; they’ll launch sometime in 2020.
“Parking fees collected will be used to pay for the parking equipment, parking specialists, additional security guards and more security cameras to create a safer campus,” he said.
In addition to the $6 per visit rate, the hospital also will offer a seven-day pass for $21 and a 30-day pass for $90. There are two gates, one off of Pacific Place and the other on private property serving the Washington Boulevard entrance.
Not in use yet, the gates are already drawing flack.
“They claim to be a community hospital. How does this serve the community?” asked Michael Leopold of Whittier, who takes his 97-year-old mother to a cardiologist several times a year.
“They say it’s for security reasons,” Leopold said. “I’ve lived in Whittier for 30 years, and I’ve never heard of any security problems. It’s going to be a pain in the neck to stop at that pay station.”
Whittier Councilman Josue Alvarado said if the goal is public safety, “I’m all for it. But if it’s for profit, it’s interesting how a nonprofit’s dedication to health care is focusing on increasing its revenue through parking fees.”
In an email to this newsgroup, resident Joy Mosbarger said, “It just really bothers me that they are making access to health care more difficult and costly.”
Mosbarger also wrote the fee will make it harder for patients to go to the hospital.
“A few years ago, I had to go to PIH five days a week for seven weeks for radiation treatments,” she said. “The cost for that was astronomical, and I’m sure it’s higher now. Why is it necessary to add to that cost by charging a patient $6 for just parking in order to be able to get to their treatment? That doesn’t seem right to me.”