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New Patient Story

  • Featuring: Frances Ransley
  • Date Submitted: Mar 17, 2023
My experience as a profoundly deaf patient at Providence St. Joseph Hospital began in May 2021 with a traumatic accident that involved multiple fractures and an ambulance trip to the ER. I wear hearing aids, which allow me to hear vowels, but consonants are entirely out of my range, so I hear only part of each word, and depend heavily on lip reading, context and guesswork to understand what people are saying. Being late deafened and living all my adult life in a remote, isolated region meant that I never had the opportunity to learn ASL, nor was there any Deaf community that I could interact with. It was my worst nightmare come true, being in a hospital, helpless, in terrible pain, facing surgery, and everyone masked so I had no idea what anyone was saying. But to my great surprise, everyone, literally every person I encountered there, from the surgeon to the cleaning staff, made every possible effort to help me understand what was going on and what they needed from me. Not once did I experience any rudeness or impatience, though I knew that everyone there was under a great deal of stress due to Covid procedures as well as staffing issues. Every person who spoke to me took the time to be sure I understood. Often this meant writing down questions, instructions or explanations. I could not and would not have asked anyone to remove their masks. I felt valued and respected at all times. That was my experience as an inpatient, and with the Home Health nurses, aides and physical therapists who came to my home to do follow up care as well. But, because I can’t use a voice phone, I found it very hard later on as an outpatient, to find any way to communicate with the hospital. The Providence St. Joseph website had only phone numbers, no email addresses or live chat feature, in fact not even a mailing address. Because I have no landline at my home, I can’t use a TTY. I had to drive to the hospital, park a block away because the lot was full, and walk to the hospital to get the information I needed. At this point I also submitted a complaint letter. I felt that offering communication via email or text messaging for non-confidential uses such as making appointments, was not an unreasonable or expensive accommodation. The reply to my letter was immediate. I was contacted by a Patient Relations Specialist who has assisted me via email. I am happy to say that my problem was resolved, cheerfully. I feel that Providence has been sensitive to my needs, and I hope easier access for other deaf patients will soon be in place.