U.S. Attorney’s Office and Mercy Health Northern Hospital Systems Agree to Settlement to Resolve Violations of Americans with Disabilities Act

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio reached a settlement agreement with various hospitals located in the Mercy Health Northern Markets to resolve violations stemming from an investigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The agreement follows a federal civil rights investigation into complaints of discriminatory treatment of deaf patients and their companions during healthcare stays at several hospitals.  These complaints stated that Mercy Health failed to provide on-site interpreters and, instead, relied on note writing and/or video remote interpreting services that failed to provide effective communication.  On the basis of its investigation, the United States determined that Mercy Health denied patients the appropriate auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication during healthcare.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Mercy Health agreed to take proactive steps to ensure future patients, and companions of patients, who are deaf or hard of hearing avoid similar discrimination.  The hospital system shall, among other actions, provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, when necessary, after conducting a communication  assessment by consulting with the patient and/or companion.  The agreement also states that patients and their companions shall be advised of the availability of these aids and services throughout their healthcare stay and that these services will be provided free of charge.

According to the terms of the agreement, Mercy Health shall also make payments to each aggrieved person identified during the investigation and pay a civil penalty to the United States.  

This agreement is neither an admission of liability by Mercy Health nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well-founded.  The Mercy Health hospital system cooperated fully throughout the investigation, which was conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angelita Cruz Bridges under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt, and additional information about the work of the Educational Opportunities Section is available at https://www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities-section.

Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/ or by calling the U.S. Attorney’s Office civil rights hotline at (216) 622-3932.