Spencer v. Providence St. Joseph Health

Scroll to case documents Date Filed: 07/26/2022 Date Settled: 02/20/2024 Status:

In July 2022, DRA filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Washington against Providence St. Joseph Health for the health care company’s failure to ensure effective communication for Deaf patients seeking medical care at Providence’s Seattle-area facilities. DRA’s clients, all of whom are Deaf and use ASL as their primary method of communication, had experienced repeated discrimination at Providence facilities due to their hearing disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In February 2024, DRA and Providence reached an agreement that memorializes Providence’s strong commitment to ensuring Deaf patients have access to health care services at facilities across the Puget Sound region.

In the time since the lawsuit was filed, Providence has worked with DRA’s clients to develop a comprehensive plan for strengthening Deaf patients’ access to communication when they seek health care services at PacMed and Providence Medical Group locations, Swedish Edmonds Campus, Swedish Mill Creek Campus, and Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

As an initial step, Providence has retained a Deaf Access Consultant to build on existing policies and trainings so that they are not only legally compliant, but also Deaf-friendly. Providence will take steps in improve staff understanding of circumstances in which an interpreter should be provided in person rather than remotely and has pledged to defer to a patient’s request for in-person interpretation. Providence will also undertake an evaluation of existing connections and hardware for Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) to analyze whether they can meet the Americans with Disabilities Act’s technical specifications. To review all the actions Providence will take, read the settlement agreement.

As a result of these improvements, Providence will become an industry-leader for Deaf-friendly health care and set the standard for other providers.

Disability: Case Area: ,