CommunicationFIRST Files First Challenge to Hospital Visitor Policies

blurry image of well-lit hospital hallway with open red door visible at leftEarlier today, CommunicationFIRST, together with Disability Rights Connecticut, the Center for Public Representation, and the Arc of the United States, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) regarding the failure to provide people with disabilities reasonable accommodations to hospital no-visitor policies in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first OCR complaint filed regarding a state’s hospital visitor policies during this pandemic.

The complaint focuses on recent guidance issued by the state of Connecticut that puts many people with disabilities at risk of unequal access to medical treatment, including inadequate access to effective communication, in violation of federal disability rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The state’s guidance only allows a support person to accompany someone with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) who is served by the state’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS), denying other disabled people in the state of Connecticut the reasonable accommodations they need to access medical services and are entitled to under the law. Numerous other states, including New Jersey and New York, have issued policies requiring hospitals to make reasonable modifications to their no-visitor policies for people with a range of disabilities.

You can read the full complaint here. More information on hospital visitation policies and key exceptions necessary for people with communication disabilities can be found on our COVID-19 Guidance Page tracking such policies. CommunicationFIRST's COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit can be accessed here.