After Complaints, UVM Medical Center Plans Improved Services For Deaf Patients

Nov 29, 2017

The University of Vermont Medical Center has committed to strengthening its services for deaf patients, after complaints over the quality of sign language interpretation offerings at the hospital.

Over the past four years, patients have alleged that remote interpretation over video does not consistently work, and staff at the Burlington hospital have not been adequately trained in accessing in-person interpreters for deaf patients.

Barbara Prine, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid, which worked on the case on behalf of seven patients, says the hospital has agreed to make sure remote interpretation works throughout the hospital, and to respect patients' preference between in-person and remote interpretation.

"They've agreed to train their staff on working with deaf patients, understanding how to work with deaf patients, getting in-person interpretation," Prine says. "They've also agreed to have a complaint process so that they know when they're not doing what they're striving to do."

Prine calls the changes "robust," and says Vermont Legal Aid is "very pleased" with the improvements UVM Medical Center plans to make.

Prine says the Vermont Human Rights Commission will monitor the hospital's compliance with its new commitments for the next 2.5 years.

A call to UVM Medical Center's lawyer for the settlement was not immediately returned.