DOJ, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Reach ADA Settlement

The Department of Justice recently announced a comprehensive settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Brookline, Mass., to ensure access to medical facilities and services for individuals with disabilities.

BIDMC, a teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard University, encompasses more than 30 buildings and three community health clinics, and operates as a quaternary acute care facility and level one trauma center providing sub-specialty services. The agreement requires, among other things, that BIDMC ensure that accessible patient rooms and accessible medical equipment--such as examination tables--are available for each of its clinical services.

"This agreement with a major teaching hospital that serves a diverse metropolitan community is a major step toward access to equal medical treatment for individuals with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "It is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division to enforce laws that guarantee that persons with disabilities have equal access to medical care and critical services. We applaud the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for working closely and cooperatively with us to reach a resolution."

The agreement with BIDMC, which is the result of a compliance review conducted by DOJ, requires BIDMC to:

  • Take steps to ensure that a minimum of 10 percent of its existing patient rooms are accessible, including accessible toilet facilities, and are dispersed through its clinical services;
  • Ensure that each department and clinical practice provides at least one accessible examination table that lowers to 17-to-19 inches from the floor, thus enabling those with mobility disabilities to transfer to the exam table;
  • Survey existing hospital and patient care facilities and equipment, including patient beds, exam tables, lifts, and radiologic and diagnostic equipment, for compliance with ADA standards; and implement a system to ensure that BIDMC purchases accessible equipment where they are commercially available;
  • Develop and implement a barrier removal plan;
  • Review hospital policies and train staff to address the needs of individuals with disabilities; and
  • Appoint an ADA officer to oversee implementation of the agreement.

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