The 2012 protest against OSF Saint Francis Medical Center's treatment of the hearing-impaired has grown into a federal lawsuit alleging the hospital's parent, OSF Healthcare System, discriminates against patients with disabilities at OSF Healthcare facilities.
"We reached out to OSF before we filed the lawsuit asking them to sit down and discuss solutions. They simply did not respond," said Andres Gallegos, an attorney for the 17 plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.
The suit alleges patients with disabilities who go to St. Francis, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington and OSF St. James Medical Center in Pontiac encounter "multiple and pervasive" barriers that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and prevent patients from receiving equal access to health care. According to Gallegos, it's the first lawsuit of its kind in Illinois.
"Unfortunately, it's not the first time this issue has been addressed in Illinois," he said. "Other hospitals determine it's best to address these issues without having to defend themselves in federal court."
The lawsuit is part of a growing movement to enforce ADA requirements in hospitals.