CHICAGO — The U.S. Attorney’s Office today announced a settlement agreement with two west suburban hospitals to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agreement requires the hospitals – Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital and Adventist Hinsdale Hospital – to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified American Sign Language interpreters, to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard-of-hearing patients and their companions. Per the terms of the agreement, the hospitals will provide mandatory training to their employees on how to address the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. The hospitals will also designate at least one employee as an ADA administrator, who will coordinate immediate access to the proper services – free of charge to the patient.
The settlement amicably resolves a complaint filed with the Department of Justice by a deaf patient who alleged that personnel at the hospitals discriminated against him by failing to provide the proper services under the ADA. The hospitals will pay $10,000 in damages to the complainant. Although the United States and the complainant agreed not to institute a civil lawsuit, the United States may review compliance with the settlement at any time, and reserves the right to file suit if it believes any portion has been violated.
The settlement, which became effective Monday, was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah J. North and Patrick Johnson.
The ADA prohibits public accommodations, including hospitals, from discriminating on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of their goods and services. The complainant alleged that the hospitals failed, during two visits in 2015, to provide sign language interpretive services in a manner that ensured effective communication. In both visits, the complainant said he requested an interpreter so he could fully communicate with medical personnel, but his requests were denied and the auxiliary aids and services that were provided did not ensure effective communication.
The agreement does not represent an admission of liability by the hospitals, which are part of Adventist Midwest Health, a system of health providers serving the western suburbs of Chicago and a component of Adventist Health Systems. Adventist Midwest Health fully cooperated in the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s investigation of this matter.
To learn more about the ADA and other laws protecting the rights of the deaf and hard of hearing, log on to www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).