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Hospital Parking Prices, Health Cares Controversial Cost

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Collin County boy spent months in the hospital, racking up millions of dollars in medical bills.

Insurance covered most of the expenses.

But it was a much smaller fee that prompted his parents to call the Ones for Justice.

The family said their son received amazing care at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas. The problem was the parking.

Mia Francis-Poulin was six months pregnant when a routine check-up turned serious.

"They put me in the hospital with preeclampsia," Francis-Poulin said.

"It was a rollercoaster, for sure," recalled her husband, Steve Poulin.

Soon after, their son, Roman, was born at 27 weeks. He spent the next ten months hospitalized at Medical City Plano, then at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas.

"Those doctors saved our child's life," said Francis-Poulin, who, along with her husband, stayed by Roman's side the whole time.

"Every moment of free time we had was spent there," Poulin said.

As the parents took turns visiting each day and night, the parking fees began to add up.

"I noticed it was costing us a lot to pay for parking," Francis-Poulin said.

"I'm coming here to see my son, who's fighting for his life, and I gotta pay to be here," Poulin said.

Between the two of them, the parents paid $200 every month or approximately $2,000 in total.

"It just feels like gouging," Poulin said.

They could afford the cost, but Francis-Poulin said she saw other families who could not. She recalled witnessing a scene involving the relatives of a girl who doctors had taken off life support.

"And after the child passed, I remember a family member coming out and just doling out dollar bills and saying, 'This is for your parking,' " Francis-Poulin said. "It was so upsetting to me because this is the worst day of this family's life."

Paying for parking is typical.

Most hospitals charge for each visit, but families can buy weekly permits to lower costs.

Most passes run between $40 and $80 per month.

Medical City charges $60 per month. Only Scottish Rite offers free parking, which is an amenity the Poulins wish other medical centers would offer.

With Roman home, there is no need for parking. But the Poulins worry about other families in the midst of a medical crisis.

"I just don't think that it's right to put parents in a position to pay to see their child. I just don't think that it's right," Francis-Poulin said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Medical City wrote: "We offer a variety of convenient parking options for patients and visitors, including self-parking, valet parking, and easy access to public transportation. Families and visitors to Medical city Dallas can obtain discounts that reduce weekly parking to just over $2 [per] day. Additionally, visitors can utilize DART public transportation, which drops off in front of our hospital every 30 minutes, Monday through Friday."

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