Capital’s hospitals give peace of mind with valet parking

Capital’s hospitals give peace of mind with valet parking

The service a huge help to patients in reporting for appointments on time



by

Olivia Olarte-Ulherr

Published: Sun 17 Aug 2014, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:51 AM

Finding a parking space in the Capital is a constant woe, especially when one is running late for a doctor’s appointment, as this could mean additional waiting time to a missed time slot.

Hospitals here, particularly those located in residential and commercial areas, have lately taken this issue literally off their patient’s hands — by providing valet parking services.

The valet parking attendants at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.— Supplied photo

“We greatly value our patients’ schedules... We were aware that parking issues generally delay patients’ appointments. Therefore, in order to enhance patient experience and to help our pregnant patients avoid the hassle of parking their cars at a distance and walking to the hospital entrance, we decided to offer this service to our patients and their families,” said Khaled Abdulla Haji, support services director at Corniche Hospital.

As the largest maternity and neonatal healthcare facility in the UAE, hundreds of pregnant women visit the hospital daily and this has been a trying issue till the hospital introduced this service in 2010.

“During the launch of the service, a customer satisfaction survey found that 95 per cent of 280 respondents thought the valet parking service was a great initiative and we have received a very positive feedback on this initiative so far,” said Haji. The hospital has further enhanced this patient experience by providing an air-conditioned waiting station outside the outpatient section.

Al Noor Hospital had a similar problem when it moved into its Khalifa Street campus in 1999, prompting them to introduce the service then. The hospital was the first to offer this type of service to its patients.

“Our free-of-charge valet parking services are accessible to all our patients who are visiting the hospital, especially those with emergency cases. Patients will simply drop their cars at the main entrance without having the hassle to search for a parking spot,” said Abdulrazak Abdeen, corporate shared services manager of Al Noor Hospitals Group.

Al Noor’s valet parking service currently accommodates approximately 1,000 cars on a daily basis, both patient and visitors.

NMC Specialty Hospital started offering this service in its Abu Dhabi hospital over five years ago and has now extended this to other NMC branches. However, this is only available for patients as paid parking facilities are available adjoining the hospitals — a good set-up since in case of “overflow”, the cars can be parked in these public parking spaces.

How do valet attendants manage the services at LLH Hospital?

Abdul Jaleel, general manager of Unique Valet Parking, which manages the valet parking services at LLH and Burjeel Hospitals, said that once the basement parking at LLH is full, the Mawaqif parking area is used and the hospital pays for the ticket. LLH can only accommodate between 25-30 cars in its basement.

Burjeel Hospital has an underground parking for 172 cars, 95 per cent of which are allocated for valet parking — all fully utilised with between 800-1,000 cars coming daily from 8am to 11pm.

“We are managing... We are not turning away guests and we don’t put the ‘parking full’ board,” said Jaleel, who noted that they juggle this by adding extra parking line and leaving keys in the ignition and move cars about.

The service is primarily for patients with a stand-by option for visitors. Tickets should have the department stamp as proof of doctor’s visit. However, during busy hours (9am-9pm peak time) “there was no time to ask (for the stamp)”, Jaleel said.

At the moment, the stamp policy is flexible but “later, we are planning to collect some money from them if not stamped. We have not yet finalised how much. The money will be given to Red Crescent or to any charity because we want to reduce the misusing of service. Some people give their car and collect it the next day or they give their car and go to another hospital”, he explained.

Valet parking at the hospital is a 24-hour service and currently manned by 16 valet attendants and two supervisors working in shifts. A plan is underway to increase the staff strength to 30.

“It is not an easy job,” remarked Jaleel, noting that at peak hours, staff don’t get to rest.

According to him, attracting good staff is paramount. “To get good staff, we provide training and we pay double salary than the market, so people would want to work here. They need also to speak Arabic and English because 90 per cent of patients in Burjeel are Arabs. When our people communicate with them in Arabic, this is a comfort for them,” Jaleel said.

With the exception of NMC, valet parking services in all hospitals are outsourced. But “this might change with the opening of the new hospital in Khalifa City”, said Nirman Shetty, president of Corporate Affairs, NMC Group

olivia@khaleejtimes.com


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