SEATTLE -- Healthcare workers will get access to free parking near hospitals and coronavirus testing sites as part of a new permit program announced by the City of Seattle.
The announcement comes just one day after nurses and healthcare workers told Q13 News that they should get free parking while they work through the coronavirus pandemic.
“For those of us who have to come here every day, it’s a big deal,” said Brittney Campbell.
Campbell is a registered nurse at Harborview. She’s worked there for three years and uses the bus to commute to work. However, due to social distancing, she stopped taking the bus.
“I started to feel very uncomfortable, and it’s not just for me,” she said.
But driving to work meant she has to pay to park. Parking for more than 8 hours costs $20 at the lots around the Harborview Medical Center campus. Campbell said employees can get discounts, but over time the cost adds up.
On Thursday, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a new program to give free on-street parking around hospitals and testing sites to healthcare workers.
“Our health care workers in Seattle are fighting hard for all of us during this challenging time and we need to do everything we can to make their jobs easier,” said Durkan. “We want to make sure that health care workers can focus on delivering care to those who need it most. No health care worker should spend an extra ounce of energy worrying about parking before they work a long shift to care for our community.”
According to city officials, the new program would first be available to staff at Harborview Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Seattle Children's Hospital, Swedish Medical Center (Cherry Hill and First Hill campuses) and Virginia Mason Medical Center.
“We are doing everything we can to work with health care providers during this crisis, developing solutions that help them meet their needs. In this case, healthcare workers needed to change how they get to work in order to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 and facilitate different work schedules,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. “Through close collaboration with the Seattle Police Department, we were able to adapt the City’s parking rules and enforcement practices to help our healthcare providers and their staff.”
SDOT will work directly with the hospitals to issue the permits, and temporary parking zones will begin to open starting Monday, March 30.