Deaf residents report frequent issues with sign language interpretation at Connecticut hospitals and health care facilities, hindering their ability to understand medical care fully. And though video remote interpreting (VRI) services are widely available at Connecticut hospitals, patients have reported mixed experiences with the technology. The issues persist more than 30 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires interpretation for patients and family members under the “effective communication” section of the law. In the last three years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has negotiated four settlements with medical facilities in Connecticut for complaints related to communication with deaf patients. “At one point, ADA and accessibility seemed to be very good,” said Marissa Rivera, an advocate with Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT).
Four nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health in connection with incidents in which one resident died, another was verbally abused and several female residents were touched inappropriately by a resident. On March 13, 2014, Ledge Crest Health Care Center in the Kensington section of Berlin was fined $780 in connection with a March 2013 incident involving the resident who died. Records show the resident had chronic constipation and was supposed to be monitored for abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Despite the vomiting and low blood pressure on March 4, 2013, a nurse’s note failed to say whether a doctor had been notified about the change in the resident’s condition and failed to show whether additional blood pressure checks had been done, DPH records said. State records report that six hours later, the resident was admitted to a hospital for gastrointestinal bleeding and sepsis, a life-threatening inflammation prompted by an infection.