BOSTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- More hospitals offer valet parking, but Children's Hospital Boston officials said long wait times for those ready to go home were detracting from the service.
Jim Smith, manager of Parking and Commuter Services at Children's Hospital Boston, said valet services are intended to improve access for families.
"If you have to go to the hospital, it's one little thing we can do to make the experience easier," Smith said in a statement.
However, last winter, Smith and his team realized that Valet Parking wasn't making it as easy as they'd hoped after a patient survey found families rated their interactions with the parking staff highly, but 30-minute or longer wait times were a problem.
The Valet Parking Team collected data to figure out how long it was taking to return vehicles, their peak operating times and what areas could be targeted for improvement.
The team evaluated every step of the valet process and found overwhelming traffic congestion, inadequate signage and lane markings around the driveway.
The team developed nearly 100 suggestions for improvements, rated for ease of implementation and the easiest one were completed first -- improved signage and staff training, redeploying staff for best coverage and keeping a closer eye on traffic violators, Smith said.
One frequent complaint families had was that it's hard to see from inside the lobby. To be better able to spot a vehicle's arrival, families waited outside. To make that wait more pleasant, heat lamps were installed around the covered parking circle, Smith said.
Smith said the average return time for a vehicle was lowered to 8 to 15 minutes, with the majority less than 12 minutes.