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Medical Campus docs asked to make room for patient parking

Memo to doctors and staff at Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute: Please plan your meetings elsewhere.

That's the latest philosophy at Kaleida Health as it awaits the completion of a $45 million parking ramp on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

A notice recently sent to doctors and staff at the two hospitals asked them to consider scheduling meetings and events at other Kaleida facilities through late fall in order to free up parking for patients and their families on the Medical Campus, where parking demands have intensified with the neighborhood's growth.

The change recently took effect and runs through November, said Michael P. Hughes, Kaleida's senior vice president of public affairs and marketing.

The notice is more of a "philosophy," Hughes said, but one that also was also used when Kaleida expanded Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and when it moved the Gates Vascular Institute to the campus from Gates Circle.

The hospital system has encouraged doctors and other staff to plan meetings at other Kaleida hospitals and the Larkin Building, where Kaleida has its back office operations. The organization also recommended Skype.

[Related: Where to park at the new Oishei Children's Outpatient Center]

The nonprofit organization that coordinates parking, transportation and other initiatives on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus expects a parking ramp under construction at 854 Ellicott St. to help meet the growing needs on the campus. The ramp's 1,800 parking spaces will have twice as many spots as the former Ellicott-Goodrich ramp it replaced. Medical Campus officials have confirmed that just part of the new ramp will be completed by November, when the new home of John R. Oishei Children's Hospital opens. The ramp, originally expected to fully open in the fall, will be completed in the spring 2018.

By the end of the year, 15,000 people are expected to work in the neighborhood's hospitals, institutes and businesses. A month before Children's Hospital opens its new Medical Campus location, faculty will begin moving into University at Buffalo's new medical school building. Students will begin classes there next January.

In the meantime, more patients and visitors have been parking at the Michigan-Goodrich garage on High Street and finding street parking or using parking lots. Now more than ever, valet parking is playing an increasingly important role.

"Valet is critical to our success, as well," Hughes said.

Finding street parking close to the campus in adjoining neighborhoods often can be a juggling act from the start of the day until the end of the work day, for the public and campus employees.

Kaleida officials said they are trying to preserve as many parking spaces as possible for patients and their families during the transition. They hope to help alleviate parking demands by hosting conference calls, meetings and events offsite.

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