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HOSPITAL ADDITION AND RENOVATION TO BECOME ADA ACCESSIBLE UNDER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AGREEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A San Angelo, Texas hospital undergoing renovation will follow guidelines that will make the facility accessible to persons with disabilities, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The settlement with the Angelo Community Hospital is the first Justice Department agreement reached with a hospital under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Today's resolution stems from a Justice Department program under which it reviews selected plans for newly constructed and altered facilities to ensure they are in compliance with the ADA. As part of the review, the Justice Department examined hospital plans to build a two-story addition housing maternity and intensive care facilities and renovate an adjacent area which includes operating facilities. The review found that the proposed design did not comply with the accessibility standards under the ADA. "Access to health care services is critical," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "This agreement demonstrates the Justice Department's commitment to ensuring that all persons with disabilities have equal access to health care facilities." Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations such as hospitals. The law provides that failure to design and construct facilities that are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination. It requires that all new construction and alterations commenced after the law went into effect comply with specific guidelines known as the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Under the agreement, the hospital will revise its construction plans to conform with the ADA Standards, and will: ​ build doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchair; ​ provide sufficient accessible parking; ​ ensure bathrooms are accessible; and ​ install visual alarms and accessible drinking fountains. The government will also obtain $10,000 in civil penalties as a result of the hospital's failure to adhere to the ADA guidelines. "The ADA's requirements for alterations and new construction are crystal clear," added Patrick. "This agreement should remind the design and construction community that complying with the ADA's accessibility standards is not just the right thing to do -- it's the law."

Most of the proposed construction at Angelo Community Hospital -- as revised to comply with the ADA -- is now complete. Last year Attorney General Janet Reno launched a national campaign to educate Americans about their rights and obligations under the ADA. The campaign, which includes television and radio public service announcements, promotes a toll-free ADA information line. The number is 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). # # # 95-441