Coronavirus News: 7 On Your Side goes to mayor after NYC nurses slammed with parking tickets

COVID-19 News and Information
KIPS BAY, Manhattan (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side stepped in to help after dozens of nurses, touted as front-line heroes who risked their lives during the COVID pandemic, were slapped with thousands in parking tickets.

ICU nurse Emily Finkelman was shocked by the 20 parking violations dumped on her by the city.

"I was dumbfounded, how is this even possible?" Finkelman said.

She wasn't alone. Meagan Malawka, a nurse practitioner, was blindsided by 18 tickets and Justine McAlese, an oncology RN, got 25 tickets at one time.

"For a month and a half I was parking in these spots with no idea that I was doing anything wrong," McAlese said.

But here's the kicker: all were awarded COVID Parking Permits -- which were issued by the city's Department of Transportation to medical professionals.

It was a huge help for them since during the early days of the pandemic public transportation was not an option.

"(The permit), which allows you to park mostly everywhere - except for No Standing Anytime and ambulance zones," Finkelman said.

Since mid-April, Finkelman has worked one of the most dangerous jobs, pulling 12-hour shifts and working the COVID ICU.

"You kind of felt like you were putting your life on the line," she said.

The nurses say if they knew they couldn't park there, they wouldn't have, but they never got any violations on their windshields.

"Parked there multiple days, never got a ticket," Finkelman said.

Cameras on buses snapped their license plates along 1st Avenue, then sent the tickets in the mail. They got tickets for April violations in June.

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But now, at $50 bucks a ticket, the three front-line workers are on the hook for more $3,000 in fines.

"Is this how you treat heroes?" Finkelman said.

7 On Your Side posed that question first to the New York City Department of Transportation, then to the Department of Finance. Then we went directly to City Hall.

Last week, 7 On Your Side asked Mayor Bill de Blasio: "These are for frontline workers that have been working with COVID patients. A few weeks ago they got thousands of dollars' worth of tickets that they didn't know about, will you be able to help them?"

"I don't want to see these nurses suffer who are doing so much for us," de Blasio said. "These are our healthcare heroes. If you can help connect them to our team here at City Hall, we will trace back what happened here. I have every reason to believe that we can resolve this and not make them, not see them penalized for doing the extraordinary work they're doing."

The mayor's office confirmed that because of 7 On Your Side's advocacy, they set up to dismiss tickets through the NYC Department of Finance's website.

Nurses should dispute all tickets, provide a copy of the permit and all tickets will be dismissed.

"It's so nice and so meaningful that you're helping - I can't thank you enough," Finkelman said.

If you have already had a hearing, you can fill out an appeal application at nyc.gov/finance and mail it to the Department of Finance.

If you have not had a hearing, you can request one online, using the DOF Pay or Dispute mobile app, or by mail. More information is available at nyc.gov/finance.

7 On Your Side will be working independently with the nurses whose tickets we've already been sent.

Click here to dispute a ticket online.

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