DOJ settles with health system over ADA violation

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Feb 2, 2012

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the Henry Ford Health System to resolve a complaint filed alleging HF failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Specifically, Henry Ford Health System did not provide sign language interpreters to a deaf patient at one of its in-patient psychiatric facilities and to his family members who are also deaf.

Because of this the deaf individual was denied the benefit of effective communication with hospital staff, the opportunity to effectively participate in medical treatment decisions, and the full benefit of health care services. The Justice Department subsequently conducted a full review of the health system and determined that there were inadequate resources available to deaf and hard of hearing patients.

"The ADA protects the right of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to access medical services, and this settlement is the latest example of the Justice Department's unwavering commitment to enforcing the ADA," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This settlement also demonstrates Henry Ford Health System's commitment to provide effective communication to people who are deaf or hard of hearing."

"This settlement enables the Henry Ford Health System and the federal government to achieve their common goal to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing patients can communicate with their doctors and obtain equal access to medical treatment, especially at critical moments in their care," said Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The settlement requires Henry Ford Health System to train staff on ADA requirements; adopt policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are promptly provided the deaf or hard of hearing; appoint a corporate ADA administrator and ADA facilitators at each of its facilities. HF must also pay $70,000 to family members who were denied effective communication.

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