Healthcare institutions and patients alike know that good patient care doesn’t start at check-in – it starts on the drive or journey to the hospital or healthcare facility. Not only that – patient care includes parking and the transportation network in and around the medical facility.
Our healthcare transportation consultants work closely with hospital and facility administration and staff to create and improve transportation networks and infrastructure at medical facilities in suburbs, cities, and in more rural areas.
Healthcare System Transportation Challenges and Solutions
Hospitals and other medical facilities have unique challenges and specialized transportation needs – quite unlike any other land use.
Hospitals, medical/professional office buildings, clinics, and other healthcare facilities are high parking and traffic generators. Visitors, patients, physicians, and staff have different parking and traffic needs that must be addressed.
Medical Facility Access and Circulation
Patients in need of care and concerned visitors have more important concerns than trying to figure out hospital roadways and parking facilities. Common problems that all hospital visitors experience include: vehicle-pedestrian conflicts; traffic congestion at hospital driveways and on adjacent public streets; long walks or shuttle rides for employees due to parking shortages; inconvenient access to public transit.
To successfully accommodate both visitors and employees, hospitals and healthcare facilities should plan for:
- Safe, efficient, and adequate vehicular access, egress, and on-site circulation.
- Separate and direct access from an arterial roadway to the emergency department, unencumbered by other traffic.
- Direct, clear vehicular access to the main hospital entrance and direct connections to visitor parking areas.
- Adequate queuing space at hospital driveways.
- Good access to public transportation.
Perhaps at no other time than a hospital visit does parking become so important. The parking experience alone can define whether a hospital visit has been positive or frustrating for patients and visitors alike.
Common hospital parking problems include: too few parking spaces; insufficient spaces assigned to specific user groups; poor parking layout and design; and insufficient number (and inappropriate location) of handicapped parking spaces.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are advised to plan for:
- Enough parking spaces to adequately accommodate peak parking demands.
- Good distribution of spaces, so spaces are provided where they are needed, notably in large hospital complexes.
- Appropriate management of patient, visitor, physician, and staff parking, which does not overly rely on enforcement.
- Appropriate number and placement of handicapped parking in accordance with ADA parking regulations.
Wayfinding and Signage in Healthcare Facilities
The larger the medical complex, proximity becomes a bigger challenge. Patients, visitors, staff, and physicians – no one wants to walk a long distance to get to their destination. In addition, hospital visitors often experience the confusion and frustration of poor signage, notably when their attention should be directed toward patient care and concern.
In cases where proximity cannot be solved with short transportation routes, wayfinding and signage become crucial, especially to reduce confusion for visitors and patients.
Solutions to these problems include:
- Clear wayfinding and signage.
- Adequate regulatory signage and pavement markings (part of what transportation engineers call “traffic control devices” which includes traffic signals).
- Clear signage and explanations on where to find valet pickup and drop-off at the hospital entrance.
- Signage that explains parking policies and payment processes.
Medical Field Transportation Consulting Experience
We have advised healthcare providers and facilities on a wide range of transportation issues that call on the expertise of our traffic engineers, transportation planners, and our TDM (transportation demand management) consultants, who help facilities and companies build new transportation options beyond the automobile and road networks. Our hospital and healthcare sector services include:
- Assessment of existing on- and off-transportation conditions
- Preparation of the transportation elements of hospital campus master plans
- Transportation impact studies
- Preparation of Transportation Management Plans (TMP), including carpool, satellite parking/shuttle bus, variable work hours, shared/managed parking, transit incentives, monitoring, and compliance plans
- Queuing studies
- Parking demand studies
- Parking lot and garage design
- Service/deliver/truck dock design
- Parking operations plans
- ADA hospital parking compliance studies
- Shuttle bus plans
- Speed studies
- Traffic calming
- Justification of variances from local zoning requirements
- Expert witness testimony
In addition to these issues, hospitals and healthcare systems are increasingly expanding their medical services into existing retail properties. While these properties help bring healthcare closer to where patients live and work, they present unique parking and transportation challenges which you can read more about in this article.
Healthcare Transportation Project Experience
Examples of our hospital transportation project experience include:
Wells + Associates has worked on a variety of transportation projects for Kaiser Permanente in the Washington, DC Region, including in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Montgomery County, Maryland, and in Prince William, and Fairfax County, Virginia. Our work includes: Traffic Impact Studies and Local Area Transportation Reviews for sites including a proposed new medical center and a number of medical office buildings; Due Diligence analyses for various sites that included evaluation of municipality requirements related to traffic and transportation review requirements, review of existing, or by-right land use entitlements as they relate to traffic and transportation approvals for the sites, and analyses aimed at identification of potential impediments to obtaining land use approvals from a traffic and transportation standpoint; Trip Generation Studies; Traffic Data Collection; and general Traffic Engineering and Transportation Planning services.
Medstar Georgetown University Hospital
Medstar Georgetown University Hospital plans to build a new state-of-the-art medical/surgical pavilion on the Georgetown University Campus. The new 477,000 SF facility will house 156 private patient rooms, a new Emergency Department, larger operating rooms, a rooftop helipad with direct access to the Emergency Room, and three levels of underground parking, while doubling green space and providing a more open and attractive campus.
As traffic consultant for the hospital, Wells + Associates was tasked with developing a comprehensive transportation plan for all modes of transportation. The project presented many challenges, including: 1) its location on a compact, urban university campus; 2) a campus-wide parking cap; and 3) the requirement to maintain existing hospital operations during construction. The resulting plan includes in a new interior east-west road on the campus, improvements at two of the entrances on Reservoir Road, parking improvements, and new pedestrian and bicycle corridors on-campus. W+A also developed a comprehensive transportation demand management (TDM) plan for the Hospital, helping the facility increase transportation options within the limits of its current vehicular infrastructure.
Anne Arundel Health System
Anne Arundel Medical Center, in Annapolis, Maryland, greatly expanded with the opening of a new six-story Acute Care Pavilion. Wells + Associates’ traffic engineering consultants conducted a traffic impact analysis of the expansion, as well as the relocation of the existing Anne Arundel General Hospital to a new campus. Our analysis considered the impact of the campus expansion, the relocation of the existing hospital from the historic district of Annapolis, and the impact of the Medical Parkway extension. We provided analysis of the internal site circulation and made recommendations for modification to site access, garage circulation, and traffic control improvements, including traffic signal installation. W+A prepared all signing, pavement marking, and signal plans.
Inova Health System
Inova is a network of hospitals, outpatient services, assisted living and long-term care facilities, and healthcare centers that provides much of the healthcare needs for citizens in Northern Virginia. W+A has provided transportation services related to numerous Inova facilities since 1994, including those in Loudoun, Mount Vernon, Fair Oaks, and at Inova’s flagship Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. For the Mount Vernon and Fairfax campuses, we have provided transportation demand management (TDM) services. Inova Fairfax Medical Campus is the largest hospital in Northern Virginia, located on Gallows Road. W+A has provided extensive traffic engineering and transportation planning services to Inova Fairfax, including conducting a traffic study related to their plans to significantly expand its campus. Our recommendations to Inova Fairfax included: a new traffic signal; construction of a third southbound lane on Gallows Road to the “Grey” hospital entrance; restriping of the “Blue” entrance; improvements to a significant traffic intersection; and signal timing improvements along Gallows Road.
Loudoun Hospital Center
Our traffic engineering and transportation planning consultants have provided services to Loudoun Hospital for over 10 years, both at their original site in historic Leesburg and at the new campus in Loudoun County. We provided physical and operational solutions and demographic, travel time, traffic impact, and site planning studies related to the move to the new campus. Ambulance access to the emergency department was enhanced by a specially equipped traffic signal at the Route 7/Lansdowne Boulevard intersection. We currently provide traffic engineering services in support of the phased expansion of the hospital.
Shady Grove Life Sciences Center
Our team evaluated the traffic impacts of increasing the approved density within the Life Sciences Center – a study that included the analysis of 22 intersections. W+A found that all but two intersections operated acceptably during weekday commuter peak hours. We made recommendations at seven intersections, which included: constructing new turn lanes and through lanes, and restriping and modifying signal operations. Our analysis concluded that the increased density of the project would pass the test for Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance related to these improvements.
Washington Adventist Hospital
Washington Adventist Hospital is a 232-bed, state-of-the-art acute care facility in Takoma Park, Maryland. W+A was retained to evaluate the traffic and parking impacts of a planned 195,000-square-foot expansion, which included a new medical office building. Our work included an assessment of existing traffic and parking demands, projections of future parking needs, analysis of hospital traffic impacts on two major hospital driveways and 11 off-site intersections, and evaluation of multiple, alternative plans for accommodating long-range parking needs. Our work has included close interaction with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and the WAH Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to formulate and review hospital expansion plans.
W+A was retained to analyze the proposed site plan for an expansion of the hospital campus, including doubling the number of parking spaces. Our work included analysis of existing hospital traffic and parking characteristics and neighborhood cut-through traffic, as well as projecting future physician, staff, inpatient, outpatient, and visitor parking demands for each hour of the day between 6 AM and 8 PM. Our team attended meetings with citizen associations, government agencies, and the planning board, and provided expert witness testimony before the Montgomery County Zoning Hearing Examiner.