DENVER - The VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System is implementing major changes to improve patient parking at the Denver VA Medical Center after a series of 7NEWS Investigations exposed a parking shortage that raised concerns about patient safety for veterans.
7NEWS first uncovered a lack of parking at the Denver VA was making it more difficult for veterans to get the care they need last month. After our initial investigation, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman demanded answers from the VA in a letter he sent to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans' affairs last week.
Now, the Denver VAMC is promising action by implementing a list of changes to improve parking and patient safety for veterans at its medical campus located on Clermont St. Those changes include staffing the parking garage with VA personnel who will offer wheelchair assistance to veterans, opening employee parking when other lots reach capacity, and reassigning all visitor parking for patients only.
According to information Denver VAMC Public Information Officer Daniel Warvi shared with 7NEWS in February, as many as 2,000 patients or employees are without on-campus parking on any given day.
During a site tour on Feb 4, 7NEWS witnessed a patient with a cast, walking on crutches fall on the walkway between the VA parking garage and an entrance. At the time, the head of the Denver VAMC facility operations was throwing salt on the sidewalk.
"As a combat Veteran myself, I just want to thank 7NEWS for the job that they did on this report. This nation has an obligation to take care of those who have served this country, and they're (Denver VAMC) not doing it here. And we've got to make sure that they do," said Rep. Coffman.
The VA had leased parking from the University of Colorado Denver, but was warned years ago that the parking structures and lots would not be a permanent option because the CU property was slated for redevelopment. A series of parking lots have since been closed down and hundreds of parking spaces were lost.
The Denver VAMC is implementing the following list of changes in an effort to improve patient parking for veterans:
- VA personnel will now be on-site at the parking garage to offer wheelchair assistance to Veterans traveling from the garage to the Medical Center during normal outpatient clinic hours of operation.
- VA police will also offer assistance to Veterans who park at the Medical Center.
- The VA is working to obtain motorized golf carts to offer assistance to Veterans who park and need help getting to the Medical Center.
- As patient lots reach capacity, police are authorized to open employee parking areas and allow patients to use any available spaces.
- Facilities Management Service is exploring the staging of General Services Administration vehicles at U.S. Post Offices in an effort to free up on campus parking.
- All on-campus visitors parking has been eliminated and reassigned for patient parking only.
- Denver VAMC has reached out to local churches to find out about potential permit parking on their properties.
- Denver VAMC plans to meet with the City’s Parking & Planning Program Administrator to discuss possible changes to street parking bordering the medical center.
- Off-site valet parking options are being explored.