FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 14, 2020
Melissa Sublett, Executive Director
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. Tells Governor Stitt Immediate Action is Needed to Ensure People with Disabilities Are Receiving Legally Required Accommodations in Oklahoma Hospitals
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. (ODLC) issued a letter warning Governor Stitt that many Oklahoma hospital COVID-19 visitation policies violate the rights of people with disabilities.
“Accommodations required under federal law do not simply go away in a crisis. ODLC is committed to ensuring the rights of Oklahomas with disabilities are not forgotten during this pandemic. Failing to provide appropriate accommodations to people with disabilities is not only against the law, it lowers the quality of care they receive and unnecessarily puts lives at risk,” said ODLC’s Legal Director, Brian Wilkerson.
Currently, Oklahoma hospitals are each developing their own visitor policies that, in many cases, exclude guardians and caregivers of people with disabilities from participation in their care. Individuals with disabilities who need communication or behavioral supports in hospital situations retain their rights to reasonable accommodations under federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), even in a pandemic.
“Some individuals with disabilities do not have the ability to effectively participate in their own medical care. We have clients, right now, who are not receiving appropriate medical care because the hospital they are in has refused to allow a family member or support person to stay with them. These individuals have disabilities that limit their ability to accurately tell their doctors and nurses their medical history, drug allergies or other information critical to receiving the correct care and medications. In situations where care decisions often have to be made in a split second, having a support person present who can provide vital information to medical professionals can truly be a matter of life or death,” said Melissa Sublett, Executive Director, Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc.
###ODLC COVID-19 Hosptial Visitation Policy