US Justice Department Reaches Agreement With Medical Care Provider on Accommodations for Deaf, Hard of Hearing

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Dec 9 16:48:53 UTC 2008

Justice Department Reaches Agreement With Medical Care Provider on
Accommodations for Deaf, Hard of Hearing

Last update: 4:14 p.m. EST Dec. 8, 2008

WASHINGTON, Dec 08, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The
Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement
agreement with urgent and primary health care provider Medbrook
Medical Associates Inc., under which the company will provide sign
language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services to
patients, their family members, and their companions who are deaf or
hard of hearing at the Medbrook Medical Center in Bridgeport, W. Va.

"Effective communication, particularly in the medical context, is
essential to ensure that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
can receive appropriate health care," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting
Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This
agreement will assist individuals with disabilities obtain equal
access to medical services that are available in their communities."
The ADA requires health care providers to ensure effective
communication with patients, family members and companions through the
provision of sign language interpreters, assistive technology, and
other auxiliary aids and services. Under this agreement, a person who
is deaf or hard of hearing will be able to benefit from the same
services as every other patient.
The agreement requires Medbrook to:

    --  Establish nondiscriminatory policies for providing effective
        communication for people with communication disabilities, including the
        provision of sign language interpreters;

    --  Post a notice of the policy in its waiting rooms;

    --  Train staff on the policies;

    --  Ascertain how to provide effective communication to Medbrook patients
        and their companions by using an effective communication assessment

    --  Pay $4,000 each in compensatory damages to the complainant and his
        spouse; and

    --  Pay $1,000 in civil penalties.

The Department's investigation of Medbrook was in response to a
complaint filed by a man who uses sign language as his primary means
of communication and sought Medbrook's services on an urgent care
basis. In his complaint, he alleged that Medbrook denied his request
to provide him with a sign language interpreter, stating that it did
not hire interpreters and that his wife, who herself was ill, would
need to interpret for him. According to his complaint, although the
complainant's wife informed the receptionist that she did not feel
qualified to interpret, did not know the signs for medical terminology
and was ill, Medbrook refused to provide an interpreter and gave the
complainant's wife no option but to interpret for her husband.
More information about the ADA or this agreement is available at the
Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301
or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) and at
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

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