MANHATTAN — Letechia Yarde, a registered nurse working exhausting hours in the intensive care unit at a private, Upper East Side hospital, stopped taking the subway to work as the COVID-19 crisis escalated.
She thought driving from Brooklyn would be safer, and believed regulations for street parking had been eased.
“I didn’t feel right getting on the train,” Yarde said. “I didn’t want to put other people at risk, and I didn’t want to put myself at risk.”
But Yarde’s new form of transportation has been costly.
She was slapped with three parking tickets in less than a week — including two on the same day for a fire hydrant infraction she’s contesting.
Yarde knew the city had suspended “alternate side of the street”parking regulations. She though that extended to other parking rules.
The first ticket, on March 18, was for a restricted zone where vehicles aren’t supposed to park between 8 am and 5 pm. The penalty was $65.
Yarde arrived at the spot on East 79th Street after a grueling, 12 1/2 hour shift to find the ticket.
Yarde was most upset about two tickets on March 24, allegedly for parking too close to a fire hydrant.
“$115 dollars,” she said. “Twice in the same day.”
She tried to contest the tickets.
“I tried to appeal all three,” Yarde continued, “but all came back, ‘guilty.’”
“I explained I’m a nurse. They didn’t care.”
PIX11 learned the Department of Transportation distributed 13,200 parking placards to public and private hospitals in recent weeks to allow health care workers to park on the street.
Letechia Yarde wasn’t one of the nurses who received them.
Other nurses who work with Yarde in the hospital told her they’re getting tickets after leaving the overnight shift, if they’re delayed getting to their cars before parking meters demand to be fed at 9 am.
“We work the front lines,” Yarde said. “Obviously, in ICU we see the sickest patients, mostly COVID-positive patients.”
PIX11 contacted the Department of Finance about Yarde’s situation, and Communications Director Marcy Miranda responded, “We are grateful for the life-saving work that nurses and other medical personnel do everyday.”
Miranda noted most parking rules still remain in place but added, “We also encourage this individual to challenge her violations, if she believes she has a strong defense.”
Yarde said she definitely didn’t park too close to the hydrant.
“I just think it’s really unfair we are having these issues at this time. We just need easier ways to park,” Yarde said.