Photo of valet parking attendant Nicholas Uclaray is one of ten UC Davis valet parking attendants designated to assist hospital visitors.

Similar to the best restaurants and hotels, UC Davis Medical Center is now offering valet parking for hospital visitors.

By officially launching the new service recently, medical center officials found a way to provide patients and their families with close and convenient parking. Construction projects around the hospital in recent years had reduced the number of nearby parking spaces.

"This new service offers a way to drive right up to our front door and leave a car with an attendant so our visitors can focus their attention on that family member or friend who's in the hospital." said Duane Hicks, manager of parking and transportation services for UC Davis Health System. "Finding a parking spot is the last thing people should have to worry about."

Hicks explained that the valet service also helps increase the number of spaces available in the hospital's Stockton Boulevard parking facility. Using valet attendants and stack-parking vehicles in the aisles of the structure make it possible to park an additional 40 cars.

The service is available at the main entrance of the hospital from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a $3 minimum fee and $1 per hour after three hours. Short-term parking at the medical center's front entrance will still be allowed for patient admissions and departures, along with visitor pickup and drop-off.

Photo of hospital visitor with valet attendant Valet parking attendant Nicholas Uclaray greets and helps a hospital visitor.

The new parking program is designed only for patients and visitors. It is not available to UC Davis faculty or staff. Unlike hotels and restaurants, medical center parking attendants will not be able to accept any tips.

"Our hospital and all of its services are designed to benefit the community," added Shelton Duruisseau, chief administrative and professional services officer at UC Davis Health System. "We didn't feel that allowing employees to accept gratuities would be in keeping with our core mission of care and service."

The valet service is only the latest in patient and visitor amenities for the health system.

More than a year ago, the health system began offering wireless computer access throughout its hospital. This summer, to further enhance healing and health for patients, visitors and employees, the entire 140-acre campus surrounding the medical center will be designated as a smoke-free environment.