The ADA and Healthcare

Equal Access to Healthcare is Required

Child with light skin tone at a doctor's office with a healthcare provider also with light skin tone. Provider and patient are looking at each other and provider is holding patient's arm and touching patient's chinThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that health care providers provide individuals with disabilities full and equal access to their health care services and facilities.  Title II of the ADA applies to public hospitals, clinics and health care services operated by state and local governments and Title III of the ADA applies to privately-owned and operated hospitals, clinics and health care providers.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to recipients of federal financial assistance such as Medicaid and federally conducted programs. (

Hospitals Must Provide Reasonable Accommodation in Visitor Policies

In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and ensure the safety of health care workers and patients, health care facilities across the state are introducing policies that restrict or outright ban visitors. However, any such policy must allow for reasonable accommodations for patients with disabilities who may need assistance and support with communication, coping with stressful situations, or managing health care decisions.

People with disabilities including mental illness, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and those with communication barriers, often depend on a support person to assist them.  This assistance is necessary for the well-being and safety of the patient and facility staff may not be able to meet these needs. Therefore, all facilities must provide for reasonable accommodations as part of their visitor policy.

Here’s an example of a reasonable visitor policy from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago:

Patients with disabilities who need assistance due to the specifics of their disability may have one designated support person with them. This could include specific needs due to altered mental status, intellectual or cognitive disability, communication barriers or behavioral concerns. If a patient with a disability requires an accommodation that involves the presence of a family member, personal care assistant or similar disability service provider, knowledgeable about the management of their care, to physically or emotionally assist them during their hospitalization, this will be allowed with proper precautions taken to contain the spread of infection.

If your request for a reasonable accommodation to a visitor policy is denied, contact us at 603-228-0432 or to schedule an appointment to speak to an attorney about this issue.



Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with disabilities across New Hampshire. DRC is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for New Hampshire and has authority under federal law to conduct investigations in cases of probable abuse or neglect.

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