Communication Advocacy at Hospitals During COVID-19
DCARA has an important information to share with the community. Watch our video below.
[Video Description: Susan Gonzalez stands in front of lime green walls with a corner of a painting on the left side of the screen. Susan is wearing a black sweater. Susan wears black square glasses and has dangle earrings that include yellow, pink, blue and coral stones. Her hair is brown, curly, and short.]
Susan: Hi, I hope you all are keeping safe and healthy! This vlog focuses on communication advocacy if you have a medical need or medical emergency.
Right now our daily lives are not routine or normal. We are definitely in the middle of a public health crisis. This means that our access to medical care has changed in response to the crisis.
Please remember medical appointments are mostly suspended. Visits to doctor’s offices are very limited and have strict policy about how to visit. Hospitals are more overwhelmed and stressed. There is more noise, more chaos, more uncertainty, new policies, new restrictions, etc.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) still applies and as a Deaf patient you do have the right to effective communication. The new challenge is the ability to provide resources for effective communication.
1) Be Proactive
This means you need to be proactive with your communication needs. Make a plan with your family about your communication needs and medical wishes. At the hospital please communicate your needs immediately and every time there is a new medical staff working with you. Do not wait for them. Take responsibility and communicate.
2) Be Prepared
If you have to go to the hospital please be prepared. That includes:
Checklist of what to bring:
• Complete list of medicines and vitamins
• Complete medical history including surgeries
• Doctors’ names and contact information
• Medical Power of Attorney documents including Agent name and contact information
• Devices and chargers (iPhone, iPad etc)
• Hearing aids/CI processor and their batteries
• If you have one, communication card.
3) Be Patient
All of that should be in your bag if you get admitted into the hospital. You will be alone in the hospital. Hospitals are not allowing visitors in general; there are very limited exceptions where visitors may be allowed.
4) Be Aware
More and more hospitals are using only VRI services. The demand for ASL interpreting services may be higher than available interpreters. More importantly hospitals are trying to protect people inside and outside of the hospital by limiting the number of people going in and out of the hospital. Some VRI companies do offer Certified Deaf Interpreting services some do not. But if VRI services are not available because of equipment or connection issues VRS services can be used.
5) Be Ready
On your iPhone or iPad please download your VRS service app. Make sure the log in information is set and ready. You may wonder about FCC rules about being in the same room. Right now doctors and nurses make very short visits with patients and continue their conversations outside of the room. That approach would allow for doctors and nurses to call you to talk about your condition and their suggested treatment plan.
Please keep in mind that hospital and medical staff are overwhelmed daily. You can take responsibility for your communication needs. Please go to:
nad.org/covid19-communication-medical-access-for-deaf-hard-of-hearing for more information including different apps you can download on your devices.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
For more information: www.dcara.org/coronavirus