DETROIT — Henry Ford Health System Wednesday announced that it will be implementing new and additional processes to ensure effective communication between deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and health care providers.

Under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Henry Ford will provide training to hospital staff on the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act; to adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are promptly provided to patients or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing; to appoint a corporate ADA administrator, and ADA facilitators at each of its hospitals, urgent care facilities, medical clinics, community health centers, and affiliated health care facilities to ensure access to appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

“The settlement demonstrates Henry Ford’s commitment to enhance our communications with patients who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, so all patients can take advantage of the services we provide,” said Marco Capicchioni, vice president, Facility Services, Real Estate and Support Services, Henry Ford Health System. “Since the 2004 situation, we immediately began to address the communication gaps that existed, and continue to further assess, identify and implement process improvement plans that will help reduce future communication breakdowns.”

Process improvement plans will be implemented within the next 120 days at all Henry Ford sites. Additionally, Henry Ford is looking at the use of smart phones and other mechanisms for communication services, and partnering with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to further improve its processes.

All Henry Ford facilities have, for years, had in place interpreter services for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. In 2011, for instance, Henry Ford provided about 37,000 hours of sign language interpreters to assist communication efforts with patients at no cost to patients. The cost to Henry Ford: $1.5 million.

Additionally, Henry Ford offers services to patients who speak languages other than English, and provides literature and signage at all Henry Ford facilities.

“As part of our mission Henry Ford provides the highest quality of care to our patients. We also want to ensure that all members of the community can participate in all the services we provide,” Capicchioni says.


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