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Detroit-area hospital getting interpreters for deaf patients

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit hospital will begin providing interpreters for deaf patients under a settlement with federal prosecutors that followed a civil rights review of the hospital’s practices.
William Beaumont Hospital and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan reached an agreement Wednesday over allegations that the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A civil rights investigation of Beaumont found that it neglected 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 continually asked for interpreters.
Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District on Michigan, said in a statement that the ADA safeguards the right of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to access medical services.
“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.”
In a released statement, Beaumont released a statement denying any ADA violations and did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The statement also noted that Beaumont has already made efforts to enhance its policies and procedures for providing proper accommodations and entered into an agreement with the government that bolsters the hospital’s commitment to compliance with the law.
The settlement requires Beaumont to provide training to hospital staff on the ADA’s requirements, to adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services, including ASL interpreters, are swiftly provided to patients or companions who have hearing issues; and to designate specific Beaumont ADA personnel to ensure access to appropriate auxiliary aids and services.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the requirements apply to each of Beaumont’s three hospitals and 31 associated health care facilities.