12 On Your Side's story featuring a disabled veteran who turned to us for help is getting results.
Larry Pollard got a face-to-face meeting with the right people at McGuire VA Medical Center about his parking concerns. He told us veterans are forced to walk long distances to get inside the hospital, while closer spaces are reserved for valet parking.
NBC12 was not allowed in the meeting, but I talked to Pollard afterwards. It was a good meeting, he says. I also talked with McGuire's public affairs officer. She says, they know parking is a problem, they do care and they're trying to work on this.
Pollard says he made several key suggestions to ease long walks to the hospital door for disabled veterans, including a shuttle that actively scouts for vets in the outer parking lots from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The VA hospital says it has a shuttle now, but it's all volunteers and it's limited hours.
"Go drive around that parking lot. Drive around until you see somebody. Put one of those tram walkways leading into the hospital. It doesn't have to be enclosed, just have it covered," said Pollard.
Money will likely be an issue on the tram walk, but McGuire's public affairs officer tells me, parking needs and complaints are being addressed and they already have in place, inside the hospital, strategic points where patients can leave suggestions and voice concerns.
McGuire also says handicapped parking is available at every entrance, more than five times the number of spaces required by ADA regulation.
Pollard believes the valet service should use outer lots and veterans coming for appointments should have the lot closest to the hospital doors. Since my original report, Pollard has been assured he can park in the valet lot anytime, but he's concerned and says the fight isn't just about him.
"Is that just me? Or is that for everybody that comes in the valet parking, or are you just making amends because of the media?" questioned Pollard.
The medical center says most of their vets use the valet service and are happy with it but they're allowing Pollard to use the lot and park his own car.
McGuire VA Medical Center invited me out for a tour. They're working on changes and want to show me. They also want to head off potential problems that may come, when construction begins on a new 600-space parking garage, next year.
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