Philadephia, PA, March 21, 2015 --(PR.com
)-- St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is pleased to announce that Kate Sachs, MSW, LSW, social worker at St. Christopher’s Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, has been named as the recipient of a 2015 “Children with Special Health Care Needs Community Activity Grant” from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The funds from this grant are being allocated to the creation of a pilot program for the clinic’s deaf and hard-of-hearing patient and family populations.
According to a statement Sachs provided in her grant proposal, there are nearly 20 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in America. About 250,000 to 500,000 of these individuals use American Sign Language.* Sachs adds that about 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, 88 percent of whom do not learn to communicate effectively with their children.
“When parents are unable to communicate adequately with their deaf children, it creates significant implications for the families’ ability to impart necessary health-related information to their child or to appropriately advocate for their deaf or hard of hearing child’s needs,” says Sachs, a resident of Mount Airy, PA. “Deaf and hard of hearing patients have unique cultural and linguistic needs which are often inadvertently overlooked by larger hospital systems. Barriers to healthcare provision can include prejudice, lack of adequate environmental accommodations, and a lack of access to interpreters. We have a large number of deaf and hard of hearing patients in our clinic, so we see this issue quite a bit and we recognized it as something that needs to change. Receiving this grant is one step in the process of making that change.”
To address this, the grants funds are being used to create a streamlined program for these patients in the Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs, which includes:
· Cultural sensitivity training for clinic staff
· Basic American Sign Language courses for staff
· Creation of improved workflow/documentation procedures for interpreter requests and patient accommodations
· Parent education resources
· Deaf and hard of hearing clinic “toolkits,” including assistive technology such as visual door knockers to alert patients when a doctor or staff member is about to enter the exam room and handheld alert devices for the waiting room
· Adaptations/auxiliary aides to ensure that the clinic environment is fully accessible
“Research shows that a streamlined program with best practice guidelines and accommodations for serving deaf and hard of hearing patients will help promote improved patient care, patient satisfaction, and positive health outcomes. As a primary care office for children with special needs, we feel we are perfectly situated to take the lead in becoming a role model to the hospital and the larger Philadelphia community,” says Sachs. “Implementing this pilot program is incredibly exciting, and we are already seeing a positive impact within our clinic. Our overall goal is that this can also be introduced throughout all of St. Christopher’s so that patients hospital-wide who are deaf or hard of hearing have access to the resources to which they are entitled.”
*Marschark, M. (1997). Raising and educating a deaf child. New York: Oxford University Press.