When it comes to parking, hospitals seem to never have enough. At the same time, customers ― whether patients, staff, or visitors ― always want to park as close as possible to the their designated entrance. Because easy and convenient access is a prime indicator of hospital customer satisfaction, U.S. hospitals are rethinking the expansive asphalt parking lot and dreary concrete parking structure. Innovations in design, technology, and financing, along with careful planning, can mitigate shortages and improve customer convenience. Now with a global pandemic, parking lots and structures are also being called into action as part of an organization’s emergency response strategy.
Healthcare facilities need to provide a sufficient number of parking spaces for patients, staff, service traffic, and the public. At a minimum, parking standards or requirements developed by local authorities having jurisdiction should be consulted since these will reflect the availability of public transportation, public parking facilities, or other alternatives. This article provides some general rules-of-thumb for estimating the number of parking spaces for patients being admitted/discharged, visitors to inpatient nursing units, hospital staff, outpatients, and emergency patients and their escorts.
The traditional healthcare facility has many departments involved in the administration and management of the organization in accordance with policies established by the governing board. Most of these administrative services use generic office space with a mix of private offices, open or partially-enclosed cubicles, and open workstations to accommodate different hierarchies of staff dictated by the organizational structure and peak-shift staffing. Patient traffic to these areas is rare. As many of these departments are being forced to resize their staff in response to cost containment pressures and changing skill requirements, vacant offices and workstations are often scattered throughout the organization. At times, growing departments may need to pack multiple people into a single office, while shrinking departments have surplus space. Many departments also have dedicated conference rooms which, although infrequently used, are not available for use by other hospital staff due to an inaccessible location.
The space in gross square feet or meters required to accommodate parking lots and structures on a healthcare campus can be substantial. When it comes to staff parking, the space is greater than that required for his or her office. The guidelines shown below can be used for preliminary space estimates. Carl Walker — a parking specialty firm — cites an average size of 334 gross square feet (GSF) or 31.0 gross square meters (GSM) per parking space and a median construction cost of $20,450 USD per space based on their database of hundreds of completed parking structures (Cudney 2018).
Conference rooms and classrooms are typically sized based on the average number of people to be seated and the type of furniture and the seating arrangement. The use of ancillary chairs along the side walls ― for people who are not sitting at the table ― will result in a reduced net square feet (NSF) per seat for conference rooms. The outfitting of conference rooms and classrooms with sophisticated audio-visual equipment may also require additional space beyond that needed for seating alone. Also, additional space is required if food service and dining are to be provided ― including counter space for a buffet service and carts and bins for the collection of reprocessable materials and trash. Conference rooms with a central table and mobile, upholstered chairs require more space per seat than a classroom-style arrangement with stackable chairs aligned around a central lectern. Egress issues and the availability of convenient toilet facilities need to be considered when large groups are assembled.
Technology and communications systems are an essential “life critical” utility for hospitals and include telecommunications service entrance rooms, technology equipment center (also referred to as the hospital data center), and technology distribution rooms.