Friday, December 9, 2011

Enhancing accessibility at MGH


TAILORED TREATMENT: Wheelchair-accessible scales like the one pictured were purchased for the MGH as part of its Accessibility Initiative.  

Since it was launched in 2009 to improve care for people with disabilities, the MGH Accessibility Initiative has led to several new programs to enhance employee awareness and education, add new patient services and purchase equipment that enhances accessibility.

“The MGH has worked with the Boston Center for Independent Living to survey all inpatient and ambulatory practices to identify the need for different types of accessibility equipment,” says Zary Amirhosseini, disability program manager. Based on survey results, the MGH has purchased more than 50 pieces of equipment – including specialty exam tables, infusion chairs, portable lifts and wheelchair-accessible scales – over the past two years.

In addition, a disability awareness training program was created by the MGH in collaboration with the Institute for Community Inclusion to raise employee awareness of disability issues. These education sessions, which will continue through 2012, provide information and resources to help staff succeed in accommodating the needs of patients and visitors with disabilities.  A website also is being developed to offer employees a central location to access all of these resources.

Another improvement staff will see is the addition of a disability information field in the patient registration system for inpatient areas. “By having this additional information in the system, staff will now know to ask follow-up questions to ensure that patients with disabilities receive care tailored to their needs when they arrive at the MGH,” Amirhosseini says.

The initiative also included an architectural barrier survey that looked at MGH buildings and surrounding areas of the campus with a focus on entrances, parking garages, public restrooms, inpatient rooms and high-volume ambulatory practice areas. Kathleen Wonkka, senior architect and planner at the MGH, says the results of this survey are being reviewed and the Planning Office will continue to include accessibility reviews as part of upcoming projects.  

For more information about these efforts or other disability-related projects, contact Amirhosseini at To enroll in the disability awareness training course, log on to HealthStream and click on the catalog tab. Type the word “disabilities” and click on the desired course.

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