ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Nurses working at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor are frustrated after a change reduced the number of available parking spaces.
The University of Michigan Hospital is world-renowned for its innovative care, but parking is one issue that plagues the practice, and it recently became even more complicated.
"Parking here is a challenge," said Mary Masson, a U of M Hospital spokesperson. "We made some changes here that were intended to improve patient access to parking."
Some nurses at the hospital pay close to $800 a year for parking. Recently, the hospital converted 280 parking spots in one of its nearby parking structures to patient parking only, bumping employee parking to other structures and lots around campus.
"We're hoping that we're giving people enough options," Masson said.
But staff members and nurses said it's not working.
"It's a crisis," said Katie Oppenheim, a staff nurse and president of the U of M Professional Nurse Council. "It has come to a crisis level."
With the parking changes, some members of the staff are parking in off-site lots and taking shuttles to get to the hospital.
"Nurses come to work stressed, exhausted," Oppenheim said.
If they can't find close parking in the early morning hours, they're forced to battle large crowds on packed shuttles and park miles away from the hospital, sometimes in dark parking lots.
"It's really a problem for everybody," Oppenheim said. "The patients are first, but the employees who take care of the patients are a close second."
Masson said hospital officials want to find a solution that works for both patients and employees.
"We're trying to do the best we can, and we are sympathetic," Masson said.
"We don't think they're doing the best they can," Oppenheim said. "This is a problem that's been going on for an extraordinarily long time."