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PROVIDENCE –MinuteClinic, LLC (“MinuteClinic”), a retail health care provider operating inside CVS pharmacy locations nationwide, has entered into a settlement agreement with the United States, requiring it to change its policies and procedures to provide effective communication to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing at all of its over 11,000 locations, announced Zachary A. Cunha, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island.
This agreement follows an investigation begun after the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office received a complaint from a deaf individual who alleged that MinuteClinic failed to provide her with requested American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation for her medical appointments at a MinuteClinic. The investigation revealed that MinuteClinic had, in fact, failed to provide her with requested ASL interpretation, and that as a result, she was not able to effectively communicate with MinuteClinic health personnel during her medical appointments.
Additionally, the investigation revealed that, while CVS MinuteClinic’s website directed hearing-impaired patients to contact a patient support line to obtain an ASL interpreter for visits to a MinuteClinic, on at least six other occasions, when individuals called that number to request an ASL interpreter for upcoming medical appointments, the MinuteClinic representatives who answered the phone did not assist them with scheduling an interpreter.
“Interactions with health care providers as we make crucial decisions about treatment and care are among the most personal interactions we have in life,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha. “And the most basic part of that interaction is being able to communicate effectively with your health care provider. Providers have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to eliminate obstacles to access for those with disabilities, and I am pleased that, with today’s agreement, MinuteClinic is taking appropriate steps to ensure that those barriers are eliminated for users of CVS stores across the country.”
Under the settlement agreement, MinuteClinic will revise its policies and procedures for requesting, providing and tracking requests for qualified interpreters at all of its MinuteClinic locations, train staff on those policies, and post notices at its locations and website, informing patients of the means and methods by which to request auxiliary aids and services, free of charge. MinuteClinic will also pay $5,000 to the complainant.
The matter was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy R. Romero.
The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist entities in complying with the ADA. For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that a place of public accommodation or public entity in Rhode Island is not accessible to persons with disabilities may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (401) 709-5000 or by email at USARI.CivilRightsComplaint@.gov.