Patients and employees at Providence Medford Medical Center can now charge up before they go home.

Patients and employees at Providence Medford Medical Center can now charge up before they go home.

Providence last week activated three electric vehicle charging stations at its Medford campus as part of a statewide effort by the hospital group.

Two are located in a parking lot near the Royal Avenue side of the professional plaza, where most patients park when seeing physicians, and one is on the first floor of the parking garage close to the elevator, said Heather Crow, public relations coordinator for the hospital.

"We limit parking at the stations to four hours, because that's all it takes to fully charge a vehicle," said Ron Neet, Providence facilities manager, in a press release, "There is currently no cost to use the charging stations, but that may change in the future."

Charging stations have been installed at 10 Providence facilities in Oregon, thanks to a sustainability push by Providence and federal stimulus funds that covered about 90 percent of the cost.

It's not just patients who can take advantage of the new hook-ups.

"I have an electric car and use the charger," said Mary Krystine, a registered nurse and Providence Medford Medical Center employee, in the press release. "I love it. I have had the car since February and have saved over $1,000 in gas since then."

Before purchasing a Nissan Leaf, Krystine said, she paid about $200 a month to put gas in her pick-up, plus the cost of oil changes.

"She also has solar on her house," Crow said of Krystine, "They consider it an investment for their future, so their costs go down as they get older.

"We're seeing more and more of these cars on the road, so for our patient's convenience and our employee's convenience we're happy to have them here," said Crow.

According to Crow, the hospital will soon post signs asking drivers not to park in the designated charging station spots unless they are driving an electric vehicle.

Providence partnered on the project with ECOtality, which holds a federal grant to develop charging stations along the Interstate 5 corridor.

ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project, a research initiative to help build an electric vehicle infrastructure in the United States. The project will collect and analyze data from vehicles and chargers to determine where charging stations will be the most beneficial. The project is a public-private partnership, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4486 or avalecia@mailtribune.com.