Valet parking may seem like something reserved for the rich and famous, but not anymore. Now everyone can get that special treatment at the clinic entrance of Mercy Hospital Joplin.
Since Aug. 1, Mercy Joplin clinic patients at 100 Mercy Way have been greeted by valets eager to help in any way they can. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the clinic entrance. Already, valets are parking about 50 cars a day for clinic patients.
“We’re not just here to park cars, but also to help someone get a walker out of the back seat, get them a wheelchair or whatever else they might need,” said Joshua Rydberg, general manager of Med Valet Corp., an Oklahoma City-based company that also serves Mercy locations in Oklahoma and Rogers, Arkansas. “Anybody who pulls up to the clinic entrance, we ask them what we can do to make it easier for patients and the guests who are here with them.”
The complimentary service (tipping is optional) is a welcome addition that was made possible by Mercy Auxiliary Joplin, which is paying for the service primarily from gift shop proceeds.
“People are feeling very vulnerable when they go to a hospital or a clinic,” said Rosemary Newman, president of the Mercy Joplin Auxiliary. “By providing this free service, it’s one of the greatest ways we can take care of them.”
The service has been needed for many years, according to Paula Moore, volunteer services manager at Mercy Joplin.
“We know how difficult it is for a lot of our clinic patients to get into the entrance and to their appointment,” Moore said. “I’m so excited to add this service. This is a dream come true.”
While Mercy always has offered help to patients once inside, their only option previously was to park and make their way to the clinic entrance. Now, care begins curbside with valets.
“We pride ourselves on providing a service for people who truly need it,” Rydberg said. “We’re the first and last person they’ll see when they visit the clinic.”
Before Rydberg became general manager, he worked as a valet for the company.
“It was the most rewarding job I’d ever had,” he said. “You got to know the patients and started forming a bond with them. I’d never had a job where I’d go home at the end of the day and really felt like I was doing something good in the world.”
Now, he’s in charge of helping find just the right type of person to be a medical valet.
“We look for people who have empathy and sympathy,” he said. “If you think everybody’s going to be happy and having a great day, that’s not the case. Unfortunately, when they’re coming to a clinic, it can be when they aren’t feeling well, so we try to find people who really understand the needs of patients.”