Hospital parking facilities, like all of the on-site operations, had to undergo multiple adjustments over the last year. Adapting to an ever-changing COVID-19 situation and constantly new CDC recommendations has been the task of those operating this critical infrastructure. Ensuring social distancing, highest level protection for doctors and nurses, and minimizing any contacts with people and surfaces outside and inside the hospitals are some of the challenges that had to be solved by hospital operators.
While a parking lot might not be a cause of primary concern in a hospital, it is an entry point for anyone visiting or working in the facility and it has very specific limitations when it comes to the technologies and hardware employed. Many of the standard parking practices that involve pay stations, tickets that need validation by extra personnel, the presence of parking attendants in closed spaces, and many more traditional technologies and practices make it almost impossible to ensure the needs fueled by the pandemic.
Could a new technology provide an answer to the pressing today’s issues? Parking Today took a look at the newly installed parking solution in a major hospital serving a big population of immunocompromised patients, which had a goal to adhere to the highest standards of infection protection practices.
Working together with a.Lot Parking solutions, a provider of comprehensive parking technology solutions, and Prime Parking, a full-service transportation management company, the medical center revamped its parking experience. The new Parking Assist Program, launched last spring with the first wave of COVID-19, aims to serve patients and hospital personnel alike by providing a number of new key services.
Safety first: a touchless parking solution
To minimize any physical contacts with both machinery and personnel, complex aimed for a fully touchless parking experience. From entering the parking lot to calculating the fee and paying: all of these operations can be done by drivers without interacting with additional contact points.
A license plate recognition technology capable of reading front or rear license plates upon exit and entry determines the parking fee, which is all the payment system needs to process it. With the newly launched Parking payment app it is possible to accomplish all these steps with a smartphone. Another alternative is to pay for parking together with the appointment payment at the check-out as the receptionist whitelists the car for exit. These multiple approaches cater to different visitors and their individual needs.
While it first seemed that touchless technology would be most relevant only for a short period during the first COVID-19 wave, it is now obvious that the virus might stay active in some form for a much longer time. For the patients who have to remain extremely careful because of the underlying conditions, the new Parking Assist Program means one fewer worry. Now that the patients and staff are used to the convenience of the touchless parking, nobody wants or plans to go back to tickets and validations – even after in the post-COVID world.
Mission possible: protecting the hospital personnel
During the last twelve months the crucial role of healthcare personnel became obvious all over the world. Some parts of the country faced extreme challenges due to the lack and vulnerability of doctors and nurses caring for COVID-19 and regular patients. One goal of the upgraded parking system was to ensure that hospital personnel experience an extra level of security by only using specific restricted parking lots and entries.
This has also solved the issues of queues with an enabled fast-lane for some license plates. All of the related user settings can be managed on the admin panel and new drivers with specific permissions can be added or removed at any time. This flexibility allows the medical center to modify the operations of hospital entries and exits following the CDC recommendations for strictly separated spaces in the facilities.
Helping the hospital staff have a more secure and more convenient parking experience is another feature that the hospital will keep for the post-pandemic world.
Full remote control for parking operations
In these challenging times, one of the top priorities is to keep the number of people on the premises at the minimum. Parking operations and management is one of the areas that, unlike before, could now be easily done remotely. The Parking Assist Program has helped the hospital to be confident about running access control, revenue control, and administering drivers via the admin panel that does not require any personnel on the grounds at any time.
Pandemic and innovation: partners in crime?
Parking industry, like any other sector, has been undoubtedly hit by COVID-19, but examples like this also show that extraordinary circumstances can contribute to much faster technology adoption. Examples like hospital parking analyzed in this article show that the obvious needs that became urgent during the pandemic will become standard practices in the near future. This is an obvious value for all end-users.
The pandemic is not the industry’s biggest enemy but could also be its new partner in fueling innovation adoption.
Ada Jonuse is with a.lot parking. She can be reached at [email protected]