Partner’s Healthcare Agreement

In April 2008, BCIL and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) convened a group of disability activists together for a meeting with the heads of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to make them aware that patients with disabilities felt they were not consistently getting the care and services they needed. Disability activists cited a number of concerns including: not being weighed because they use a wheelchair; being examined in a wheelchair instead of on an adjustable exam table; the inability to get a proper mammogram; and a lack of sensitivity to their disability by some caregivers.

BWH committed to spend $12 million on equipment and other capital improvements, while MGH says that it is not sure how much the initiative will cost, but that the figure would be in the millions. The comprehensive plan will result in major improvements in access and health care for people with disabilities as it is implemented and is designed to build a stronger partnership between health care providers and patients with disabilities.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services is keeping a close eye on the agreement citing it’s significance because these are major hospitals in a major hospital system.

The agreement includes:

  • A detailed survey of both hospitals and their level of compliance with the ADA as well as ongoing collaboration with BCIL on all issues related to people with disabilities.
  • Removing architectural barriers in hospitals, off hospital campus physicians’ offices and health centers.
  • Purchasing and installing medical equipment and devices which are accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Changing hospital policies and procedures in the care of people with disabilities;
  • Physician, nurse and staff training.