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HHS Initiative to Assist Hospitals in Effective Communication
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a new program, Effective Communication in Hospitals, to assist hospitals in meeting the communication needs of individuals who do not speak English as their primary language (i.e. are limited English proficient) or who are deaf or hard of hearing. The department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will collaborate with state hospital associations and their members to develop and implement these programs.
Hospital associations in the following nine states have committed to working on this initiative: Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. Additional state hospital associations may be added in the future.
"An increasingly diverse population has created new challenges for health care providers. Many hospitals are actively taking steps to promote better communication with patients and families," Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "This initiative will help hospitals move toward this critical goal -- ensuring that all individuals have an equal opportunity to access quality health care."
A central component of the initiative is collaboration between each OCR regional office and a state hospital association to develop goals and activities.
"This collaboration ensures that each project partnership will have the flexibility to develop and conduct the program that best meets the needs of the hospitals in that state, rather than be a 'one-size-fits-all' effort," said Winston Wilkinson, director of OCR.
Through such a tailored program, for example, OCR will assist state hospital associations and their members in:
Complementing the state level projects is a joint effort by OCR headquarters and the American Hospital Association to ensure that the project participants have access to resource materials, share the results of the initiative with other hospitals, and address related issues of national concern.
Additionally, OCR has developed a new Web page that is available to hospitals nationally and provides links to important civil rights resources related to hospitals and effective communication: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/hospitalcommunication/qa.html.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: March 5, 2007