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In spite of their best intentions, hospitals often provide a lower standard of care to people with disabilities. People who are Deaf do not always have a qualified medical interpreter to help them communicate with administrative and clinical staff. Women using wheelchairs may not get mammograms unless there are accessible mammography machines available. People using scooters may not be weighed because a clinic’s scale requires stepping up onto it. There are many reports of patients being hurt when clinical staff – intending to help – have turned or lifted a patient without listening to the patient’s instructions. The U.S. Department of Justice as well as several advocacy organizations have begun filing complaints and litigation to raise and correct these important issues.

A Case History

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center selected Kessler McGuinness & Associates to help develop and implement an ADA Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that would expand accessibility in the center’s 26 facilities in three cities.

The ADA Access Master Plan details a four-year architectural barrier removal initiative based on ADA design standards as well as functional impact for patients, visitors, and staff with a range of disabilities. As hiospital management appreciated the improvements for patients, families, and providers, it asked KMA to undertake additional work:

  • Develop an online ADA Resource Kit for Facilities and Maintenance personnel to ensure ongoing understanding of access issues.
  • Support the development and work of the Universal Access Advisory Councils. This patient and family engagement council expands the medical center’s understanding of access issues – from maintaining accessible seating in waiting areas to the need for medical records to include permanent disability accommodation requests. It is also a source of good suggestions for improvements and training, as well as a growing corps of ambassadors for BIDMC’s access initiatives.
  • Support the development and work of BIDMC’s new Staff Universal Access Advisory Council. This team of managers and providers is working together to improve policies and protocols so that accessible healthcare is a dependable reality at the hospital’s inpatient and ambulatory care centers.
Representative Clients

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Boston, Chelsea & Lexington, MA
Beverly Hospital
Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, Boston, MA
Harvard University Health Center
Lahey Clinic
Middlebury College Health Center
Partners Healthcare
Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center
Swarthmore College Health Center
Tewksbury State Hospital
The Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery
University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center
Western Massachusetts Hospital