Wheelin’ the Iroquois


Monday 5 August

To the Americans with Disabilities Centers:

I have been using an electric wheelchair for ten years.  Last month I was admitted to a nursing home that refuses to let me use the electric wheelchair.  They require me to use a manual wheelchair that is pushed by [largely unavailable] aides.

The nursing home says that there were too many accidents caused by people in power wheelchairs so they made a policy that no one can use a power chair in the building or on the property.

Is this legal?

 

Tuesday 6 August

Thank you for emailing the Northeast ADA.

The nursing home cannot have a blanket policy banning all electric wheelchairs. Whether it is a privately owned nursing home covered under Title III or a state or local government run nursing home under Title II, they must allow folks using wheelchairs, whether power or manual, to go where residents are permitted. This is from the Department of Justice’s small business brief.

Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices

People with mobility, circulatory, or respiratory disabilities use a variety of devices for mobility. Some use walkers, canes, crutches, or braces while others use manually-operated or power wheelchairs, all of which are primarily designed for use by people with disabilities. Businesses must allow people with disabilities to use these devices in all areas where customers are allowed to go.

http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm#generalnonreq

I am guessing that the nursing home would claim that the electric wheelchairs pose a direct threat. However, direct threat must be assessed on an individual basis. Also, it must be based on fact and not on stereotype or speculation.

You may want to reach out to the state protection and advocacy or the state division of human rights.

 

Wednesday 7 August

Many, but not all, nursing homes are covered by the ADA. The ADA would cover nursing homes that are operated by any state or local government, or any that are operated by a private business and are open to the general public. Any that are controlled by a religious entity are entirely exempt. Some entities that are not covered by the ADA may be covered by other laws or requirements.

If the nursing home is covered by the ADA, it cannot generally limit your use of a standard mobility device (any traditional wheelchair, whether manually operated or powered, or scooter) based on problems caused by other people. Safety requirements must be based on “actual risks and not on mere speculation” and a determination that a particular individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others must be based on (emphasis added) “individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: The nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures … will mitigate the risk.”

If a particular individual has in fact created a direct threat to the health or safety of others, that is not relevant to any other individual.

Please feel free to call our office if you would like to speak to an information specialist.

Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

 

August 7, 2013

Ms Sonya Moshier, President

Iroquois Nursing Home

Dear Ms Moshier,

You may not be aware that for the past ten years, in which I have lived independently, I have been using a power wheelchair.  When we had a team meeting with an Iroquois’ nurse manager at Crouse Hospital prior to my first admission here, she stated that you had a policy of not permitting power wheelchairs because there previously had been too many accidents.  For the duration of my two stays at the Iroquois, my power wheelchair has been taken from me and stored in a building separate from the residence.

The ADA centers state that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits a nursing home from having a policy banning power wheelchairs.  Denial of using power wheelchairs must be assessed on an individual basis, not established as policy.

Nursing homes “can not generally limit your use of a standard mobility device (any traditional wheelchair, whether manually operated or powered, or scooter) based on problems caused by other people. Safety requirements must be based on ‘actual risks and not on mere speculation’ and a determination that a particular individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others must be based on (emphasis added) ‘individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: The nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures … will mitigate the risk.’”  Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

“The nursing home cannot have a blanket policy banning all electric wheelchairs. Whether it is a privately owned nursing home covered under Title III or a state or local government run nursing home under Title II, they must allow folks using wheelchairs, whether power or manual, to go where residents are permitted. This is from the Department of Justice’s small business brief . . . the nursing home would claim that the electric wheelchairs pose a direct threat. However, direct threat must be assessed on an individual basis. Also, it must be based on fact and not on stereotype or speculation.”  Northeast ADA Center

Since you were able to have Physical Therapy assess my manual wheelchair within two days of my arrival at the Iroquois, I expect that you will be able to assess my power wheelchair competence—which is way above average—within two days of receiving this notification.

The trees are changing to autumn colors and I look forward to getting outside without taking up the time of your aides.

Sincerely,

Anne C Woodlen

Iroquois Rm. 422

Cc:    PlazaCorp Board of Directors

David Knight, Dept. of Justice

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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