Nursing facility agrees to $97,500 Disability Act settlement

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Fairfax Nursing Center President Robert Bainum.

A Virginia long-term care provider reached a settlement this week after complaints that it discriminated against deaf relatives of one of its residents, the Department of Justice has announced.

A complaint was filed against Fairfax Nursing Center, alleging the center failed to provide auxiliary aids and services to two deaf family members of an 83-year-old patient in 2014. The family alleged that Fairfax violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing them with services such as a sign language interpreter during “critical interactions” related to the resident's care.

The initial complaint stemmed from a misunderstanding of who the family needed to contact about receiving disability accommodations, Fairfax Nursing Center President Robert Bainum told McKnight's

"We feel for a number of years we used this system and it worked well with people who needed those services," Bainum said. "However we would learn from this, and I think we'll do a better job and serve the hard of hearing in a better way."

Fairfax Nursing Center settled the case with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this month. As part of the settlement, the center will have to adopt policies and procedures ensuring both patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing will receive aids and services allowing them to effectively communicate with healthcare workers.

Fairfax also will have to train its staff on the ADA's effective communication requirements, pay $80,000 to the complainants and $5,000 to the U.S. in a civil penalty, and create a $12,500 fund to sponsor ADA training for other Virginia nursing facilities.