WASHINGTON, DC – the US Justice Department announced that it has entered into an agreement with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) of Colton, California. The voluntary compliance agreement was reached to help resolve allegations that the hospital was in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing qualified interpreters and other services to deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
As part of the agreement, ARMC will provide the necessary equipment and services that allow deaf or hard of hearing persons to have equal access to medical services and communicate effectively with hospital staff.
According to the Justice Department, an initial complaint against the hospital was received in 2012 from a deaf woman who alleged that ARMC did not provide a qualified sign language interpreter while her husband was a patient. Another complaint was later lodged against ARMC, again alleging that the 456-bed hospital had denied access to a sign language interpreter for a patient in its care.
Following the second complaint, the US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California opened an investigation, and after “extensive discussions” the hospital agreed to resolve the allegations voluntarily.
“People who are deaf or hard of hearing have a right to clear and effective communication with physicians, nurses and all hospital staff members in order to ensure that they and their loved ones receive the same medical care that is available to every other person” –Eileen M. Decker, U.S. Attorney, Central District of California
Under the agreement, ARMC will now be taking a number of steps to improve its compliance with Federal law and improve access for deaf and hard of hearing persons. It has also agreed to provide ongoing reports to the US Attorney’s Office so that it can assess the organization’s compliance with ADA.
The individuals who brought the complaints to the attention of the Justice Department had also filed a lawsuit which was settled last week. Under that settlement ARMC has agreed to pay $100,000 and comply with terms of the agreement reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to improve access for deaf and hard of hearing persons.
According to the announcement by the Justice Department, the settlement reached with ARMC is actually part of the nationwide Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative (BFHCI). The BFHCI is a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices from across the US, helping ensure people with disabilities have equal access to medical services.
Source: US Justice Dept