The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has reached a settlement agreement with Redmond Regional Medical Center  to resolve an investigation into allegations that it violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated an investigation after receiving complaints alleging that Redmond failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication. The complainants, who are all deaf or hard of hearing and rely on American Sign Language as their primary means of communication, were either patients or the primary caregivers of patients at Redmond.  Two of the complainants are a deaf mother and daughter who went to the Redmond ER when the daughter developed a rash on her leg. They allege she was treated without effective communication and then discharged. Two days later, they returned to the Redmond ER after her symptoms worsened.  The daughter was diagnosed with a staph infection and had to undergo a surgical procedure with a four-day stay at the hospital. During this procedure and stay, they allege that they requested but were denied interpretive services. The third complainant is a deaf woman who made three separate visits to the Redmond ER, and alleged that on each visit she requested, but was denied interpretive services.

Under the settlement agreement, Redmond agreed to ensure effective communication to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Among other things, Redmond has agreed to provide mandatory in-service training to all its personnel and provide reports to the United States Attorney’s Office regarding its compliance with the settlement agreement. The training will address the needs of deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and companions.  Redmond also agreed to pay $50,000 to the complainants.

The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by health care professionals.  Under the ADA, health care providers are required to provide effective communication to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.  When complex, lengthy communication is involved, the ADA generally requires health care professionals to provide qualified sign language interpreters for the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.