Beaumont facilities must provide interpreters, aids to deaf

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published November 19, 2019

File photo by Deb Jacques

ROYAL OAK/TROY/GROSSE POINTE — The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a settlement with William Beaumont Hospital following an investigation of allegations that Beaumont had failed to provide sign language interpreters and other aids to deaf patients for complex medical procedures despite repeated requests  — in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The settlement states that Beaumont must provide aids, services or interpreters to patients or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.

According to a press release, the investigation, which was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Unit, revealed that Beaumont’s systems were not adequate to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing patients were provided with auxiliary aids and services to guarantee effective communication throughout their medical treatment. Beaumont worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation.

The agreement is not an admission of liability by Beaumont, and Beaumont does not admit to any violation of the law, liability, fault or wrongdoing, according to officials.

The agreement pertains to Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe, and 31 outpatient departments and centers.

“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,” Matthew Schneider, a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a prepared 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,” Schneider said.

The press release states that the settlement agreement requires “Beaumont, for each of its three hospitals and 31 affiliated health care facilities, 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 sign language 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.”

Beaumont Hospital issued this 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.”