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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES COULD COST BILLIONS FOR HOSPITALS

    AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES COULD COST BILLIONS FOR HOSPITALS
    CHICAGO, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Under a new federal law which takes effect Sunday, hospitals could spend billions of dollars changing everything from personnel policies to building renovations to meet the needs of disabled individuals in this country.  But the result will mean greater access to care and employment in hospitals for the nation's 43 million disabled people.
    As providers of public services and employers of individuals with disabilities, hospitals must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  Titles II and III, which take effect Jan. 26, 1992, require that 10 percent of patient rooms in general hospitals, 50 percent in long-term care facilities, and every room in rehabilitation hospitals be accessible to the disabled.
    Title I of the ADA goes into effect July 26, 1992.  It requires employers to eliminate any discriminatory hiring practices and to provide "reasonable accommodation in the workplace" for qualified individuals with disabilities.
    According to Doug Erickson, AHA's Director of Design and Construction, compliance with the ADA will raise new construction costs about 10 percent and renovation costs a minimum of 20 percent.  "Under the ADA, nearly every area of the hospital will be affected.  All areas accessible to the public are affected, including patient rooms, cafeterias, waiting areas, entrance lobbies, parking lots, admitting areas and emergency departments."
    Many hospitals are already in compliance with state accessibility standards.  Some hospitals even employ disability specialists and coordinators to help with physical and technical accommodations for disabled employees and to help workers and supervisors overcome any misconceptions or stereotypes.
    To help hospitals understand the complexities of the ADA, the AHA's Society for Hospital Engineering is sponsoring two-day sessions across the country on the regulations.  AHA is also airing a teleconference on compliance and will publish a manual of guidelines for its members.
    AHA urges hospitals to review their employment practices to assure compliance with Title I of the act.  "Interview procedures, pre- employment qualification tests, job descriptions and drug testing programs are just a few of the things hospitals should review," said
Rhonda Rhodes, AHA senior counsel.   "The regulations are very comprehensive and cover a wide range of personnel practices."
    The AHA, a not-for-profit organization, serves as a national advocate for hospitals and the patients they serve, provides education and information to its members and informs the public about hospitals and health care issues.
    -0-        1/24/92
    /CONTACT:  Donna Gaidamak of AHA, 312-280-6129/ CO:  American Hospital Association ST:  Illinois IN: SU: SM -- NY015 -- 3179 01/24/92 10:11 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 24, 1992
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