The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf is suing Providence, R.I.-based Lifespan Health for allegedly not providing qualified sign language interpreters to communicate with deaf patients or their relatives, according to Providence Journal.
The lawsuit alleges that the health system violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it did not consistently provide a sign language interpreter for Kathryn Arcana when she brought her son to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence in 2014.
The alleged lack of interpretation left Ms. Arcana out of the loop regarding her son's treatments for sickle cell anemia, which included blood transfusions and removal of his spleen. The suit claims the hospital would occasionally provide an interpreter, but clinicians would more often attempt to communicate with Ms. Arcana through gestures.
The suit was also filed on behalf of Peggy Mehri, whose son was treated at Hasbro and whose husband, who is also deaf, was treated at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. Ms. Mehri was allegedly left without an interpreter at both hospitals. When Rhode Island Hospital provided an interpreter via video call, the screen reportedly froze.
The suit also names Lifespan Physicians Group, the system hospitals, and Lifespan General Counsel Kenneth E. Arnold and President and CEO Timothy Babineau as defendants. The suit seeks to establish that both Ms. Arcana and Ms. Mehri were discriminated against, ensure that Lifespan pays for qualified interpreters at all its hospitals and require all staff undergo training about the rights of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.