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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 25, 2019

ProHealth Care, Inc. Agrees to Settle Allegations under the Americans with Disabilities Act

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger announced today that the United States settled allegations that ProHealth Care, Inc. (“ProHealth”) discriminated against patients with hearing impairments in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). 

ProHealth is a community-based health care system and offers a full range of services, such as fitness and wellness, primary care and specialty care, hospital care, rehabilitation care, and others. Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, including healthcare providers, from discriminating against people with disabilities, including individuals with hearing impairments.  Following receipt and investigation of complaints, the government found that ProHealth failed to provide effective communication to a patient and her companion—both of whom are deaf and communicate primarily through American Sign Language—during the patient’s treatment at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital in February 2017. Specifically, ProHealth failed to offer appropriate auxiliary aids and services, such as an American Sign Language interpreter, to permit effective communication between ProHealth’s medical staff and the complainants. Instead, ProHealth’s medical staff relied on the complainants’ minor child to interpret for the medical staff and the complainants for approximately three hours during an emergency room visit.    

Under the settlement agreement, ProHealth will pay $15,000 to Complainant No. 1 and $5,000 to Complainant No. 2. In addition, ProHealth has reviewed and revised, as appropriate, its policy on Communication with Persons with Hearing Impairments. ProHealth also will conduct additional training on the ADA’s effective communication requirements.

“The Department of Justice is fully committed to enforcing the ADA,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger. “It is hard to imagine another setting besides a hospital in which effective communication is more important. We commend the complainants for bringing attention to the lack of auxiliary aids and services they were offered.  This settlement will help ensure that other individuals with disabilities receive the assistance they need to communicate well with their healthcare providers.” 

This matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Michael A. Carter.  For more information on the ADA or this settlement, visit www.ada.gov. Individuals interested in finding out more about the ADA may also call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). ADA complaints may be filed online at www.ada.gov/complaint/ 

 

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Updated April 25, 2019