Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital awarded  MCDHH a grant of $20,000 for a four year project to increase healthcare access.  Beginning  during FY 2014, the grant will support health care situations where communication access funding is not readily available.  When small health care centers or providers such as a nutrition counselor, holistic therapist, or  dermatologist  have  limited resources for payment,  the fund is designed to ensure that prospective  Deaf and hard of hearing patients are not forced to do without required healthcare services while advocacy efforts are underway.

Advocacy is an important part of this initiative.  MCDHH Case Managers  continually advocate for doctors/medical personnel to provide communication access, and the grant funds are  for exceptional situations where financial need is demonstrated. Here are some examples.

  • Sole Proprietor or financial burden (holistic doctors, acupuncture, and chiropractor, dentist, those in private practice NOT affiliated with a hospital) will have preference for funds
  • Small company, no other resources for  Deaf and hard of hearing requestors to use.
  • New agency providing service and unfamiliar with MCDHH and interpreter/CART resources;  the fund will provide support for the first healthcare appointment  with the understanding that the  agency will meet their obligation thereafter
  • Hospitals/clinics offer Support Groups run by volunteers and they do not have funds to pay for interpreters or CART.  Funds from this grant could support access for a Grief Support Group, for example.

MCDHH advocates strongly for communication access compliance, and where Deaf and hard of hearing people are at risk of being unable to obtain immediately necessary healthcare,  we encourage  healthcare providers who may meet the above-mentioned criteria to contact  our Interpreter Referral Service to discuss options for payment for communication access.

We know that when physician/specialist/ therapist- patient communication access is made available for treatment outside of a hospital setting, there is potential for diagnosis and treatment which will prevent or reduce the need for hospitalization. We can improve access  by providing technical assistance and training so that healthcare practitioners meet their obligations to provide interpreters or CART services when needed.   Healthcare specialists and therapists will then  be able to serve their patients in a manner consistent with their professional responsibility as well with their obligations under the ADA.

We will know we are succeeding when specialists and therapists contact MCDHH’s Referral Service to request ASL interpreters and CART services and are prepared to pay for these services.  Further, we will know that this project is succeeding when Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and DeafBlind people indicate that they are successful in obtaining communication access services when they seek treatment from healthcare specialists and therapists.

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.