A settlement was reached Wednesday between William Beaumont Hospital and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan over allegations the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
An civil rights investigation of Beaumont found that it failed to provide American Sign Language interpreters for complex medical appointments and procedures for patients who were hard of hearing or deaf, even after those patients repeatedly requested interpreters.
“The ADA protects the right of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to access medical services, and this agreement is the latest example of our office’s unwavering commitment to enforcing the ADA,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, in a statement. “This settlement enables Beaumont 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.”
Beaumont denies any ADA violations and as part of the settlement did not admit to wrongdoing. They released the following statement Wednesday afternoon: “We are committed to providing equal access to health care services for all patients and families, including those who are deaf or have hearing impairments. We fully cooperated with the government during its investigation and are unaware of any findings of violations of the law by a Beaumont entity. To best serve our patients and families, Beaumont has already taken steps to enhance its policies and procedures for providing appropriate accommodations and entered into an agreement with the government that reinforces our commitment to compliance with the law.”
The settlement requires Beaumont to provide training to hospital staff on the requirements of the ADA, to adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services, including ASL interpreters, are promptly provided to patients or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing; and to designate specific Beaumont ADA personnel to ensure access to appropriate auxiliary aids and services.
The requirements apply to each of Beaumont’s three hospitals and 31 affiliated health care facilities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.