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Analysis

Tufts Medical Center Pledges to Improve Access for Disabled People

By John Commins  
   March 02, 2020

A settlement agreement with DOJ aims to put the Massachusetts hospital into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tufts Medical Center has pledged to improve access to its 16 facilities in the Boston area for disabled people under a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.

The agreement resolves a compliance review under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"This case is a reminder that we still need the basic protections provided by the ADA," said Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.

"This is especially true for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, who often receive too little support when trying to navigate the healthcare system," Lelling said. "I commend Tufts for working with us to improve services for patients with disabilities, and we hope this agreement encourages other healthcare providers to review their ADA compliance."

In a media statement, Tufts Medical Center said many of the buildings that were creating obstacles for disabled people "pre-date the ADA," which became law 30 years ago.

"We agree there is more we must do to meet the current strict code standards and make our facilities accessible to all. We will be hiring an ADA coordinator to oversee this work and to ensure any future changes in standards are met," the hospital said.

Tufts agreed to:

  • Improve the hospital’s policies for ensuring effective communication with patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing;
     
  • Improve physical access to its facilities by removing barriers at public and common use areas;
     
  • Provide sufficient accessible medical equipment to enable individuals with disabilities to have equal access to medical services.
     
  • Improve wheelchair access to public restrooms;
     
  • Update inpatient rooms on each unit to bring them as close as possible to ADA standards;
     
  • Offer deaf and hard of hearing translation tools to patients in need;
     
  • Train staff on ADA compliance

Under the three-year settlement, DOJ won't file a lawsuit or initiative additional investigations of Tufts Medical Center for the issues resolved in the agreement.

“This case is a reminder that we still need the basic protections provided by the ADA.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Tufts Medical Center said many of the buildings that were creating obstacles for disabled people "pre-date the ADA," which became law 30 years ago.

Under the three-year settlement, DOJ won't file a lawsuit or initiative additional investigations of Tufts Medical Center for the issues resolved in the agreement.


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