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December 29, 2014 • joedolson

The Department of Justice’s recent settlement with a Chicago-based hospital system is the latest reflecting the agency’s continuing pursuit of claims against health care providers – small and large — who fail to provide adequate service to persons who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Under the settlement, Franciscan St. James Health is required to conduct disability assessments to be documented in the Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), provide interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services to patients and companions with hearing disabilities, designate round-the-clock Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) administrators, and establish a complaint resolution procedure. In addition, it is required to create policies and posters, train hospital personnel and affiliated physicians, make periodic reports and submit to three years of government oversight.

The St. James settlement, announced earlier this month, is the fourth since October 2014 arising out of the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative (the Initiative). The Initiative was instituted in 2012 and initially aimed at ensuring that health care providers provide effective communication to people who are deaf or have significant hearing loss. In partnership with the Civil Rights Division and more than 40 U.S. Attorney’s offices across the country, the Initiative is aimed at enforcing Title III of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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