CRIME: Justice Department Signs An Agreement With Hospital To Ensure Effective Communication With Patients And Companions With Deaf

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Today, the Justice Department signed an agreement pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act with Adventist Health System Georgia Inc. d.b.a. AdventHealth-Gordon (Advent), a hospital in Calhoun, Georgia.

The settlement settles a claim by a patient with deafness alleging that Advent did not provide an interpreter or other communication aid for her labor and birth, despite her request for one. Instead, the patient claimed that she had to rely on lip-reading and her companion who was deaf, even though she also struggled to communicate with hospital staff. Advent failed to provide an interpreter or any other means of communication to the patient and her companion, causing fear and confusion. Advent fully cooperated with the department’s investigation into this matter which supported the allegations made in the complaint.

” No patient should be denied communication with their doctor or nurse, especially during childbirth,” stated Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring people who are hard of hearing and deaf are not excluded from their own health care because they lack communication aids or services

. Advent will inform patients and their companions about their rights to auxiliary aids to ensure effective communication. This includes a qualified sign language interpreter on-site or via video. At all reception areas, the hospital will offer prompt communication via pen and paper, text and a handheld device for connecting with a qualified interpreter. Advent will continue to evaluate communication needs and ensure effective communication throughout hospital visits. The hospital will change its policies and procedures, train its staff to the ADA and terms of the agreement and submit periodic reports on its compliance with it. In addition, Advent will pay $50,000 to the patient and $10,000 to the companion, who were both harmed by Advent’s actions.

This case was taken care of by the department’s Civil Rights Division. This department plays an important role in the advancement of the nation’s goal for equal opportunity, full participation and economic self-sufficiency.

For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit http://www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint.

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