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Language Assistance Lacking at Resurrection Hospitals
Date:11/12/2007

Systematic failures in language assistance services affect quality of patient care

CHICAGO, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One of Chicago's largest hospital chains is failing to provide language assistance services required by federal law, according to a complaint filed today with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint, which was filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, alleges that Resurrection Health Care (RHC) has systematically failed to provide the most basic forms of language assistance services to ensure equal access to health care for all patients regardless of English language proficiency.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez joined AFSCME in calling on the eight-hospital Resurrection chain to reform its policies which effectively discriminate against those who do not speak fluent English.

"When people in our communities need health care, they should be assured that the quality of the care they receive won't be compromised because of a language barrier. That's what federal law provides --- and that's the right thing to do," Rep. Gutierrez said.

"I have been very disappointed to learn that Resurrection Health Care hospitals, which serve communities with large numbers of Latinos and other ethnic groups, do not appear to be making a sincere effort to provide the necessary language assistance services," he added.

The complaint alleges that Resurrection's failure to provide these services is a violation of Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits recipients of federal funding, such as Medicare and Medicaid, from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The failure to provide adequate language assistance services to patients in need in the health care setting has been recognized by the courts as a violation of Title VI's ban on national origin discrimination.

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SOURCE HEART/AFSCME
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