In all the years I've camped I've never had any problems with hospitals allowing me to park and spend the night while visiting family or friends who were sick, and that I had to travel out of town to see. When I need a place to park while traveling through strange cities I often look for a hospital or Wal-Mart because I know they're open 24/7, I can find food, wifi and a security guard if needed and because most welcome travelers. Hospital cafeterias, if you didn't know it, have the best and cheapest food around - and are a good place to stop if you're not sure where to eat.

Anyway, I had a medical emergency in Charlottesville, VA a couple of months ago - an allergic reaction. I was treated in the Emergency Room (ER) at Martha Jefferson Hospital. I was still groggy after they controlled the hives and swelling, but they wouldn't let me leave unless I had someone drive me home. Well, "home' was the van...as I was in the process of moving at the time. The doc said he would agree to let me go if I would sleep in the van and not drive. So I did. The next day the hives returned and over the next three days I had another ER trip and was sick as a dog on the meds. At this point a security guard banged on the van window and said, "I've seen you around here for a week. What - are you living here or what?" VERY RUDE. I explained my situation, showed him the medical release and prescriptions. He continued to insist I leave. I told him I was under doctor's orders and was not fit to drive because I was under the influence of the medication. He was horribly rude even then! I refused to leave so he finally threatened me with arrest if I wasn't gone by morning!!

This Saturday I was passing through Charlottesville again, since I used to live here and have my things in storage here. Again, hives (I have an appointment with a doctor in DC Wed.). I went to the ER (an outpatient one near the interstate) and asked if I could sit in the waiting room until I could tell if they were going to get worse. The guard and registration person both said yes. So I sat for an hour until a non-drowsy med took effect and the hives subsided. I told the guard and registration person I was fine and was leaving. They waved goodbye. On my way out of the parking lot however the young guard waved me down and wanted to see my ID!! He said the other guard (the same rude one) had seen me on the monitor and said he thought I was trespassing!!! I told this guard, "Wait, I came in, asked if I could sit in the lobby, you said yes, I'm fine, I'm leaving - how is that trespassing??!!"

He shrugged and acted embarrassed and let me go. I was furious. I called the hospital, spoke to the nursing supervisor, who couldn't care less...and now...here I am...still angry. So, I'm warning you - if you must pass through Charlottesville, VA - try not to get sick, injured or stop in the hospitals there. In 2003 the other hospital there, The University of Virginia, was the subject of investigations after nurses and orderlies were found tying mental patients (using restraints) to beds and raping them. So I avoid UVA too....

Anyway....If you get sick - or you're in Charlottesville, Virginia - avoid the hospitals!!!!

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Comment by Becky Blanton on November 13, 2009 at 6:32pm
Thanks Pat. Hospitals are a great place to overnight....especially if you have any health problems in general. They welcome the public and most have great food. I stopped at the hospital in Warrenton, VA two nights ago - The Bistro on the Hill. The staff were marvelous and friendly, the wifi free and fast, and the food fantastic! There was an authentic stir fry stand and they made shrimp, beef or chicken stir fry to your specifications while you watched! The $6 portion would feed two healthy, hungry adults. The salad bar rivaled that at any restaurant, even had fresh figs, four or five kinds of olives, and four different salad leaves - including baby spinach.

You don't have to be visiting anyone and they do welcome the public. Prices are cheaper or comparable to that in a restaurant and you know the cleanliness is really strict. The parking lots are well lit, patrolled by security and if anyone ever says anything, you just explain you're tired and looking for a safe overnight place to park. The only time in my entire life I've been hassled was that guard at Martha Jefferson!! You're right, some people DO have small lives and big egos!

Good news is, the hives have finally gone away. I think it was the roasted marshmallows and two days of camping in a nice quiet campground that did it!
Comment by Pat Daly on November 13, 2009 at 6:20pm
The good:
I never thought of dry camping overnight at a hospital. good idea! I'll try it next time we're on the road.
The Bad:
Can't believe that ignorant security guard. Some people have small lives and big egos, I'm afraid.

Do hope that the hives have gone away. Must be terrible.

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