Beaumont settles ADA allegations without admititng to any wrongdoing.
William Beaumont Hospital (commonly known as Beaumont) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan recently reached a settlement over allegations the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) According to court records, a 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 was signed into law in 1990 and specifically “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” Title III of the ADA has to do with public places of gathering and states “This title prohibits private places of public accommodation from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Examples of public accommodations include privately-owned, leased or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters, and so on….This title directs businesses to make “reasonable modifications” to their usual ways of doing things when serving people with disabilities. It also requires that they take steps necessary to communicate effectively with customers with vision, hearing, and speech disabilities.”
Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan released a statement, saying, “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. 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.”
He added, “Because of the hospital’s failure to provide sign language interpreter services, deaf individuals were 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 provided by the hospital.”
Beaumont did not admit to any wrongdoing, and submitted the following statement, “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.”
As part of the settlement terms, the hospital “must 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,” according to documents.