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Disability Rights and Accommodations

Universal access for people with disabilities

Rush University Medical Center has been on the frontline of institutions promoting disability rights, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In recognition of these efforts, Rush University Medical Center and Rush College of Nursing were honored with the 2004 Henry Betts, MD, Award from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the top corporate award for disability rights and employment advocacy.

Rush has also been cited as "setting the standard of excellence in America" in a major report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the crisis of health care for people with disabilities.

See Disabled Access and Services for information for patients with disabilities.

For disability-related assistance, questions or concerns, contact Rush’s manager of diversity and inclusion:

Paula J. Brown, MBA
Manager, Diversity and Inclusion
Community employment liaison
Chair, Rush ADA Task Force
Phone: (312) 942-7094
Email: paula_j_brown@rush.edu

Among our many programs are the following:

Universal design in the Tower

The Tower, our new hospital which opened in 2012, incorporates what's known as universal design, making it accessible to people with and without disabilities.

Here are a few of the key features:

  • The grade of the slopes of the ramps between the new hospital and the Atrium Building are barely noticeable, making it easier for people in wheelchairs to propel themselves up and down the ramps.
  • Handrails are abundant throughout areas where patients travel.
  • Contrasting borders on the edges of hallway carpeting help patients with low vision distinguish where walls are located.
  • All acute-care and critical-care adult patient rooms have built-in ceiling tracks to accommodate lift devices for patients with disabilities.
  • Bathroom doors in patient rooms swing in both directions, allowing people in wheelchairs to enter and exit easily.

Learn more about universal design in the Tower.

Improved access and services

  • Continued implementation of accessibility audit recommendations
  • Electric doors at major entrances and other high use locations
  • More parking spaces for people with disabilities, and parking garage modifications to improve accessibility
  • Reduced-rate valet parking for patients and visitors with disabilities
  • Attendants and wheelchairs in key locations for anyone who needs such assistance
  • More fully accessible restrooms
  • Modifications in elevators, which include installing mirrors to help people using wheelchairs and motorized vehicles
  • New telephone system throughout the Medical Center with volume controls on all phones
  • Teletypewriters (TTY) in key locations throughout the Medical Center and Rush University
  • Sign language and foreign language interpreter programs for patients and their families, coordinated through Volunteer Services
  • Sign language classes for Rush employees and students
  • Creation of Rush University Disability Assessment Team
  • Infrared amplification devices in classrooms of Armour Academic Center
  • Assistance in the cafeteria
  • Patients With Special Needs Program (to raise awareness among staff and improve care for patients with disabilities)
  • Policy on Service Animals for inpatients, outpatients, employees, students and visitors
  • Modifications for fourth-floor Atrium patient information desk to improve accommodations for people using wheelchairs and having other special needs
  • Implementation of a content management system (CMS), making the Rush website more accessible to people with disabilities
  • Adjustable mammography tables, Hoyer lifts, and other special equipment to improve accessibility to health services

Outreach and education

  • Annual Thonar Award to recognize individuals at Rush whose efforts "turn a disability into a possibility," 1991-present
  • Recognition from the City of Chicago for 15 years of ADA leadership
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Marca Bristo, president of Access Living and past chair of the National Council on Disability
  • Promotion across the Medical Center of Disability Awareness Month and Rush Rehabilitation Week
  • Nomination of qualified candidates for external awards, such as the city of Chicago's August W. Christmann Awards
  • ADA Information Line in Volunteer Services for public and institutional use
  • ADA information and services in Rush publications and on the website
  • Patient services representative to assist with implementation of programs
  • Consultation to Metro Chicago Health Care Services TTY Directory
  • Director for Specialized Student Services in Rush Medical College
  • Human Resources program to identify more job applicants with disabilities
  • University admissions effort to identify more student applicants with disabilities
  • New learning disabilities initiatives related to students and employees
  • College of Nursing symposium on Students With Disabilities: Nursing Education and Practices, for officials from United States nursing colleges, nursing organizations, regulatory agencies and disability rights groups
  • Partner of National Organization of Nurses With Disabilities
  • Consultant to Illinois Secretary of State's Office on brochure Parking Program for Persons With Disabilities: A Guide for Medical Professionals, on the proper issuance of disability parking placards (report published on pre- and post-distribution results)
  • Participation in city of Chicago's Annual Mentoring Day for students with disabilities
  • Update of Rush Emergency Preparedness Plan for people with disabilities

Work in progress

  • Improved signage throughout institution
  • New employee orientation and training and development programs
  • Improved training on use of teletypewriters and Illinois Relay System
  • Listing of relevant disability resources and products on Rush intranet for quick referral
  • Further mammography improvements

Rush seeks your input for continuously improving services at the Medical Center. If you have questions or concerns about accessibility at Rush, or have a suggestion for improving services for people with disabilities, please contact us:

Rush ADA Task Force
Chair, Paula J. Brown, MBA
Phone: (312) 942-7094
Email: paula_j_brown@rush.edu