Patients say Foothills hospital construction is costing them long treks for treatment

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WATCH ABOVE: Parking at the Foothills Hospital is leading to some long treks for treatment. Some 1200 stalls in front of the hospital have been closed due to construction. As Sarah Offin reports, the hospital is working to teach patients and visitors a new parking routine that could last up to three years – Oct 7, 2016

For Cherie Ann Kettleson, her routine treatment at the Foothills Medical Centre now includes a 20-minute hike – both ways.

“This week especially, the gridlock was terrible. You couldn’t get into any of the entrances. And the only solution is down by Stadium [Shopping Centre]. All around here is only two-hour [parking] so I had to find the only four-hour one which was way down at the bottom of University Drive,” Kettleson said Friday.

Construction that started at the end of the September has meant the closure of the hospital’s front parkade. Alberta Health Services said it recognizes it’s a transition for a lot of patients and visitors.

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“Foothills’ main building is 50 years old and Lot 1 is nearly as old as that. People are used to where their parking is and I’m sure what they would consider front of house,” site director Michael Suddes said. “So people are learning the new system. Our job is to provide them as much support as we can and help them learn the system as quickly as possible.”

If you’re planning at trip to Foothills, AHS recommends taking a look at the new parking system.

Four lots are still available on each side of the building, but sorting out where to go can be confusing, according to some.

“We ran into their parking lot by error or just by following the crowd. I’m not comfortable at the best of times at looking for places,” Steve Pfaff said after finding a spot in the east lot.

The now-closed lot usually holds up to 1,200 vehicles. Some 1,100 staff members, meanwhile, have been asked to park off-site.

“Every afternoon the lots are already full because all that structure’s closed,” Kettleson said.

“I mean, if you come once or twice, you get through it,” Pfaff said.

“If you have to come on an ongoing basis, good luck!”

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According to AHS, this is temporary pain for long-term gain. The closure will last between two and three years and will help facilitate construction of the new Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

READ MORE: Calgary to get new cancer centre 

“The new parkade replaces the 1,200 stalls that [exist] there, but also brings in 800 stalls that will site the new Tom Baker Cancer Centre,” Suddes said.

And that’s something even Kettleson said will be worth some inconvenience.

“You have to look at the positives right?”

Demolition is scheduled to begin after the Thanksgiving long weekend.