Sutter Health First Healthcare System in U.S. to Earn Eagle Award from DRA
Awardees Honored for Outstanding Service to the Disability Community
Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) recognized not-for-profit Sutter Health for its exemplary efforts to improve healthcare access for its patients with mobility, vision, hearing and speech disabilities. Sutter Health is the first healthcare system in the nation to earn the DRA’s prestigious Eagle Award.
“Disability touches many of us at some point in our lives and it influences how we access and make choices about healthcare,” said Carol Bradley, disability and compliance officer at Sutter Health. “Earning this award illustrates how Sutter Health makes accessible patient care a top priority throughout every part of our network.”
Bradley added, “We’ve invested tens of thousands of hours and millions of dollars over the past seven years to improve and enhance access to medical services for patients with disabilities.”
DRA presents Eagle awards to businesses, government entities, individuals and organizations who distinguish themselves by actively working to support people with disabilities through: developing and implementing accessibility solutions; changing polices, practices and behaviors to benefit people with disabilities; partnering with the disability community; innovating and setting precedents that influence peers to take similar proactive measures; employing and promoting people with disabilities; and committing resources to support disability-focused organizations.
“Since 2008, Sutter has been removing architectural barriers, acquiring and installing accessible medical equipment, and reviewing and updating policies and training relevant to people with disabilities at all of its California facilities,” said Director of Litigation, Mary-Lee Smith. “This resulted in better access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of patients with disabilities throughout the state.”
As part of its commitment to enhancing accessibility, Sutter Health:
- Designated and trained 25 regional and affiliate-based ADA coordinators to further improve healthcare access for people with disabilities—now and in the future. A systemwide ADA officer with extensive disability experience guides the network’s comprehensive compliance activities. We also consult directly with patients with disabilities and hired staff with disabilities to guide our ongoing process.
- Developed, updated and adopted policies, standards and guidelines for supporting people with disabilities. This included providing enhanced training for staff at all affiliates and incorporating accessibility criteria into our equipment purchasing process.
- Surveyed dozens of affiliate care centers to identify opportunities to improve the physical access of facilities. We created a standard procedure for assessing the accessibility of facilities and proactively seek input from disability compliance experts on construction projects.
- Assessed seven types of key medical equipment at our care centers systemwide including lift equipment, exam tables, scales and medical chairs. We acquired nearly 2,000 pieces of equipment to better support patients with disabilities.
- Partnered with vendors to modify products to include accessible features. One prominent example includes the development of a custom infusion/dialysis chair. At the time we began our process, we found that no accessible chairs existed. Our ADA Equipment Officer worked with the vendor to develop the first ADA-compliant infusion chair with a custom drop down arm, low chair height and other clinical requirements—the first of its kind in the market.
- Implemented extensive updates to our website to improve access by individuals with visual, auditory, speech, physical, learning, cognitive and neurological disabilities. This included providing advanced training for system developers, analysts and web masters systemwide on accessible content, applications and designs.
- Implemented a systemwide patient accommodation inquiry through Sutter’s Electronic Health Record to ensure patients needing assistance during their appointment will have the appropriate accommodation available when they arrive.
DRA will hold its annual Eagle Awards Luncheon today in San Francisco. For more details about the event, visit DRA’s webpage.