Methodist Unsung Heroes: Valet Services Provide More Than Just Parking AssistancePublished: July 26, 2022
Every day, hundreds of patients and visitors arrive at Methodist Health System’s hospitals.
Some may have trouble navigating from the parking lot or garage to the building’s entrance. Others may need a wheelchair.
“Valet services allow us to provide The Meaning of Care the moment patients arrive for an appointment,” said Jeff Farmer, system director of public safety for Methodist Health System. “We strive to deliver a welcoming experience for everyone.”
First Person To Interact
Methodist works with parking management company Towne Park to provide valet services.
Nancy Berganza Lorenzo, an account manager for Towne Park, manages the valet services offered at Methodist.
She recently made the switch from working in a hospitality setting to health care. One main difference between the two is that things are much slower paced at the hospital, she said. Instead of being focused on making sure cars aren’t backed up, her team strives to provide a personalized experience.
“Valet isn’t just about parking the car,” Berganza Lorenzo said. “It’s also about having that smile and personality that allows you to make conversation with anyone.”
Two or three people work valet at each of the north and south towers of Methodist Hospital, and two or three others are located on the east side of MECC. Three or four workers are also working at Methodist Fremont Health.
This allows for multiple interactions to take place at each location. For example, if a car pulls up and someone needs a wheelchair, one person can provide it while another interacts with the driver and asks if they need their car parked.
Ryan Stack has worked as a valet associate at Methodist Hospital for over five years. He knows the importance of being one of the first people that patients interact with when they arrive on the hospital campus.
“A lot of the people are in a panic, so you try to give them a sense that everything is OK, and when you get into the hospital, people are going to take care of you,” Stack said. “I think that’s the responsibility we have as the first people they see.”
And that duty is ramped up at the north tower, which houses the entrance for the Emergency Department.
“Working at north tower can be very stressful because you have people that are scared and anxious,” said Chloe Davies, who has worked as a valet at Methodist Hospital since December 2021. “But the best thing that you can do is let them know that it’s OK, we’ve got it handled, they’re here now, and we’ll get this taken care of.”
The stress in these interactions also was heightened during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many patients arrived not knowing if they had the virus or if they might be exposed to it while at the hospital.
Helping Spread the Word
Valet services started in February at Methodist Fremont Health.
Jessica Pickering, who has worked on the valet team in Fremont since the program started, said she enjoys being a salesperson to help spread the word about the valet services. She encounters many who come to the hospital and have no idea that valet is available, but she wants people to know that she’s there to provide assistance.
And she knows she’s helping not only patients and visitors but also the front desk staff who have limited opportunities to get up from their station to help with wheelchairs or other needs.
“Whatever I do, I want to be helping people,” Pickering said.
Service for Others
Stack, who primarily works at MECC, sees many patients who come in regularly for treatments. The valet team is able to identify cars and often knows specific needs before opening the car door.
“When they come for various services, we already know who they are,” Berganza Lorenzo said. “And they like that because we recognize them and ask them how they’re doing.”
Stack enjoys those moments and likes receiving compliments for the services he helps provide.
“I hear once a day — or at least once a week — someone say, ‘If you guys weren’t here, I don’t know what I would do.’”
Diego Plascencia, who has worked as a valet at Methodist Hospital since June 2020, attempts to “keep it simple and try to make it as smooth and easy for them as possible.” He believes the valet services are impactful because of the size of the hospital.
“It’s always nice to hear, ‘You guys did a great job,’” he said. “To me, that means a lot, especially being able to do it at a hospital like Methodist where there’s a lot of people coming in every day.”
Plascencia also said that he’s just thankful for his position.
“I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s always really nice to have the interactions that I have with the people because not only am I trying to make their day a lot better by helping them out, but at the same time, it’s really great to see that they’re grateful for the help.”