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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 23, 2015

U.S. Attorney and HHS Ensure Effective Communication with the Hearing Impaired at St. Francis Hospital

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), have entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford to ensure effective communication with and enhance the quality of services for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the complainant alleged that St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center (“St. Francis Hospital”) failed to provide auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication with him during multiple admissions to St. Francis Hospital. Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, including hospitals, from discriminating on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations.

In cooperation with DOJ, OCR initiated a compliance review of St. Francis Hospital with regard to the Hospital’s policies and procedures for ensuring effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to determine the Hospital’s compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

As a result of these investigative efforts, concerns were raised regarding whether St. Francis Hospital has been implementing adequate policies and procedures to ensure effective communication with deaf or hard of hearing individuals.

Under the agreement, which resolves both the DOJ complaint investigation and OCR compliance review, St. Francis Hospital is obligated to take several critical steps toward improving access to appropriate communication services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, including revising its policies and procedures as necessary, revising its training as necessary, and performing an assessment of the need for auxiliary aids and services for patients and their companions.

St. Francis Hospital also agreed to pay the complainant $45,000 in compensatory relief.

The agreement is effective for three years, during which time both OCR and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will monitor St. Francis Hospital’s compliance.

A copy of the voluntary resolution agreement may be found here.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Green.

To learn more about the ADA and its application to places of public accommodation, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT:

U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722
thomas.carson@usdoj.gov

 

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Updated March 24, 2015