Major parking changes are expected to begin next week at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Starting Nov. 28, the parking lots on the east side of the hospital will no longer be available for patient and visitor parking. Instead, patients and visitors will be asked to park in the hospital's western lots, which are accessed from Arkansas Street.
The change is being made to accommodate construction crews tackling a $40 million expansion at the hospital, 325 Maine.
"Eventually, after construction is completed, we're going to have about 200 more parking spaces than what we have today," said LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer. "So the good news is we're going to end up with more parking, but the bad news is it is going to be challenging to direct people to the right places over the next couple of years."
That's right: The parking changes are expected to be in force for a long time. Construction work is just beginning on the first phase of the multiyear expansion.
Michele Berendsen, a spokeswoman with LMH, said hospital employees would be stationed in the parking lot for the first several days of the change to tell people about the new parking arrangement.
She said visitors who park in the lot won't be towed, but rather will be inconvenienced. That's because there will be no public entrance on the east side of the hospital during construction, meaning people will have to walk all the way to the entrance on the hospital's west side.
The hospital's east entrance will be the site of a three-story expansion that will include a new emergency room and intensive care unit and additional birthing rooms.
The entrance to the current emergency room will not be changed by the new parking configuration, Berendsen said.
The eastern lot will continue to be used for parking, and Berendsen said LMH employees would be asked to park in the lot. That will free spaces in the western parking lot that employees currently use.
Berendsen said the hospital also would urge patients and visitors to use the hospital's free valet parking service, which is offered from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can access it by pulling up to the hospital's west entrance.
The construction work that is requiring the closure of the east entrance also will require the waiting room and admission area for the radiology department to be moved. It will be across from the hospital's gift shop, Berendsen said.