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On Facebook: Hospital parking story generates reader buzz

January 28, 2014 

You can get links and comment on more local news on my Facebook page. (Send a Friend request to on.fb.me/18PjLMP)

Our recent story on hospital parking fees continues to generate online comments, emails and phone calls. In the story we reported how an Apex woman named Linda Beckett faces hundreds of dollars in parking fees over the next two months as her husband is treated for cancer at UNC Hospitals. The story noted that UNC does provide assistance to those families who demonstrate the greatest need. But it also reported how most of the state’s big hospitals provide discounts for long-term patient family parking or offer parking free.

After the story ran, one reader emailed to say she had to pay more than $8 for multiple trips to UNC Hospitals within a single day (apparently the $8 maximum we reported has to be arranged through the hospital parking office and not at the parking deck).

Two readers emailed to ask if they could help pay Beckett’s parking bill.

And then a phone call came from a Durham man who said he and his wife invite Beckett to park at their house and they'll drive her back and forth to Chapel Hill.

“It's just ridiculous that they (UNC Hospitals) don't offer some alternative,” he said. “Just the cost of travel back and forth is enough to bear."

You can read the story on our website at bit.ly/1drIbkM. Here’s a sampling of what some more of you said on Facebook:

Paul Bonner: It might also be worth pointing out that medically necessary transportation, including parking fees, is tax-deductible, which can at least reduce the cost for some taxpayers. This includes travel in the taxpayer's car, for which a flat rate is available, currently 24 cents a mile. Taxpayers with a health savings account or medical flexible spending account with a charge card could use the card at the hospital parking toll booth – something I've been forgetting I can do.

Clara Powers: Tax deductIble is all well and good, but when it comes to parking payments, they want it right now, not once a year when you file your taxes. Many people’s budgets are already stretched thin and with long-term illness or treatments, its even thinner.

Vicki Vars Boyer: This is supposed to be a hospital charged with serving the public of North Carolina. They have tons of money in their coffers already. Keep pushing this, and let’s get them to change this system and make it more comfortable for the families of long-term patients.

Mark Schultz is the editor of The Chapel Hill News. Contact him at 919-932-2003 or mschultz@newsobserver.com

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