MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
Due to construction at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, a permanent shuttle service has been put into place in addition to the already running American Red Cross volunteer shuttles, to assist patients to and from their car and the building.
The two five-passenger shuttles are now constantly touring the expanding parking lots of the naval hospital during normal working hours.
"Being a knee patient for about a year myself, I would come in for my own appointments, look for a parking spot and when I finally found one, it was way out there," said Lt. Carmen Rowe, head of operating management, NHCL. "While I am staff, when I come for an appointment in patient capacity, I park in patient parking and by the time I made it to my appointment, I was so frustrated that I started thinking, 'If I'm feeling this way, how are my patients feeling?'"
Since the debut of the shuttle service in July, more than 40,000 patients have been transported to and from the naval hospital doors, making regular appointments less of a hassle.
"The biggest thing is to get the patients from the parking lot to the building," said Luis Minguela, lead shuttle driver. "We want to make it as easy as possible for the patients that have hard time getting here - the older folks that can barely walk, the young service members that have been hurt overseas, parents who have a few kids and even patients who are just running a little late."
Even after the construction is finished, the shuttle service will continue.
"Our goal is actually expand the program," said Rowe. "After the wings on the building are finished, parking will expand as well, creating even more of an inconvenience."
Patients who need transportation from their vehicle to the lobby can call the naval hospital quarterdeck at 451-3079 or 450-4652 to have a shuttle meet them at their car.
"By the end of the day, what is really important is whether the customer or patient is completely satisfied with their visit," Minguela said.