Highline Medical Center in Burien, a division of CHI Franciscan Health, reached a settlement today to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington began the investigation after a complainant, who is deaf, alleged that the hospital failed to provide him and his wife, who is also deaf, with sign-language interpreters so that both could understand the information provided by medical professionals following the complainant’s spinal surgery. 

Highline Hospital has agreed to pay the patient $25,000, and his wife $10,000.  In addition, it will pay $10,000 to the United States in lieu of a civil penalty, and will implement a compliance plan to ensure full compliance with ADA requirements in the future.

“The Americans with Disability Act ensures that at critical junctures in medical care those who need it – including those who are deaf or hard of hearing – have access to services such as ASL translators,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

According to the settlement, the patient was at Highline for a surgical procedure in late January 2014, and had requested that the hospital provide an ASL interpreter in advance of the surgery. However, at critical junctures in his care, such as the period immediately following surgery, and when medical staff provided discharge instructions, no interpreter was provided.

Under the terms of the settlement, and pursuant to the agreed compliance plan, Highline Medical Center will appoint an Assistive Device Point Person to ensure that appropriate aids are provided free of charge to patients who need them. And the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to monitor its compliance for an extended period of time.