Disability Rights Advocates filed a federal class action lawsuit July 24 in the Southern District of New York on behalf of United Spinal Association and five individual plaintiffs, alleging discrimination against patients with disabilities by the three New York City area hospitals named. The suit alleges Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary have widespread architectural barriers and have failed to provide comprehensive policies to address disabled patients’ needs, such as lifting and transferring wheelchair users to examination tables.
“This case is consistent with other health access cases that DRA has done,” says DRA attorney Kevin Knestrick, referring to earlier litigation in California and Massachusetts [see “Equal Health Care: If Not Now, When?” July 2013]. “The suit challenges a wide variety of barriers throughout the [Continuum Health Partners] hospital network.” Knestrick says public and private health care facilities are required to provide physical access and accommodations under the ADA, such as accessible reception counters, adjustable exam tables, wheelchair accessible scales and accessible mammography equipment. “We’re hoping that they [Continuum] will take the steps necessary to provide that access because it’s going to take some affirmative efforts on their part,” he says.
Continuum released a statement saying, “Continuum hospitals remain strongly committed to doing everything possible to meet the needs of patients with disabilities. This is not only in keeping with the core mission of our hospitals to serve all in need, but it also is what is mandated under law.”