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Steven Beyer wanted to take care of his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and referred for hospice care. He could not because Ascension Health and its hospice center refused to provide effective communication to him. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Stein & Vargas, and Iglesia Martell Law Firm represent Mr. Beyer in his lawsuit against Ascension Health.

Original PR: www.nad.org/2020/11/02/hospital-sued-for-refusing-interpreters-during-hospice-care

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: A lawsuit has been filed against Ascension Hospital and its system on behalf of Steven Beyer, a deaf man, who was denied interpreters during hospital and hospice services for his hearing mother who was dying of terminal cancer. Mr. Beyer asked Ascension Hospital for communication access to discuss his mother’s medical services as well as hospice care. Ascension Hospital refused to provide in-person interpreters and only provided Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) occasionally and even then, the VRI connection was terrible or very blurry. After experiencing lack of effective communication through VRI, Mr. Beyer asked Ascension Hospital for in-person interpreters and they refused. The NAD, along with two other law firms: Stein & Vargas and Iglesia Martell, are representing Mr. Beyer in this lawsuit. Hospice services are an important part of the health system. When hospitals aren’t able to treat a patient who is dying, they often refer them to hospice care to try to make patients comfortable as they die. Sometimes, hospice care allows patients to receive their care at a hospice center or at the comfort of their own home, surrounded by family, loved ones, and partners. This way they can be with the patient before they pass away. However, providing hospice care requires training, information, and support from the hospital and hospice staff. Training includes how to perform caregiving tasks such as how to help patients use the restroom or give them a bath, provide proper medication with the right amount of dosage, and use medical equipment. Such training requires communicating effectively to ensure people understand what they need to do to provide care otherwise they aren’t sure they’re doing the right thing. The hospice staff is also supposed to provide support services as well as grief counseling for those providing care to their loved ones who are dying. Because the hospital and hospice refused interpreters, Mr. Beyer could not communicate with hospital and hospice staff and he could not understand how to provide the care his mother needed. Mr. Beyer struggled to provide appropriate care for his mother, who eventually passed away. He should have at least had an easier time to receive the training and be able to grieve like other hearing families. We hope that this lawsuit will ensure that other hospitals that provide hospice services understand the importance of communication access for all patients and family and loved ones, including those who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, DeafBlind, or deaf with other disabilities. Thank you.

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