The federal government and the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain have reached a settlement agreement over allegations that that the hospital refused to accommodate a child in its summer camp program in 2013 because the child had diabetes and required the use of an insulin pump.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, a complaint was filed by a Hospital for Special Care employee who was required to use unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act in order to care for her child because the child was not allowed to attend the hospital’s Vacation Ventures Kids Camp summer camp program.
The camp is generally scheduled for eight weeks in the summer. Camp activities include games, sports, crafts, swimming and field trips. The boy missed the first six weeks of the camp because staff members were not trained in how to deal with a child dependent on insulin.
Under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, state and local governments and places of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures to afford individuals with disabilities access to and the opportunity to participate and benefit from all of their programs, including summer camps.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, reasonable modifications include an individualized assessment of each child on a case-by-case basis and instructing summer camp staffers how to comply with the ADA and, if necessary, the use of injectable medicines.
“Every child should have the opportunity to enjoy summer camp in Connecticut,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly in a statement. “We hope that this agreement serves as a reminder for other Connecticut summer camp programs about their responsibility to comply with the ADA. While this particular camp was covered under Title III of the ADA – which prohibits discrimination by places of public accommodation – camps run by towns and other municipalities must also comply with the Title II of ADA, which likewise prohibits discrimination against children with disabilities.”
As part of the settlement agreement, the Hospital for Special Care agreed to restore all of the employee’s family and medical leave time used up to the date when the child was finally allowed to attend summer camp.
Additionally, the hospital agreed to implement policies and procedures to ensure that children with disabilities are afforded full and equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from all of its summer camp programs. Specifically, if any child with diabetes applies for the summer camp, the hospital will have a health care professional provide training on topics such as recognizing signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, how to get help quickly and how to provide insulin with a pump.
The hospital also agreed to publish on its website their nondiscrimination policy.
The hospital, meanwhile, released a statement saying that they deny any wrongdoing from the incident.
“This allegation resulted from an unfortunate set of unclear communications among the hospital’s camp and a prospective camper’s family,” said Lynn Ricci, senior vice president and chief operating officer at the Hospital for Special Care. “We regret that occurred, but are pleased to have been able to work with the Department of Justice to resolve that situation.”
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Perkins, in coordination with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.