Yale New Haven first CT hospital to offer revolutionary services for the deaf

4/20/2011 — Yale New Haven Hospital is the first hospital in Connecticut to offer video relay service (VRS) telephones for deaf and hard of hearing patients, family members and visitors.

A Sorenson® Video Phone is now located in the hospital's Atrium, allowing deaf and hard of hearing patients, family members and visitors to place calls using American Sign Language (ASL). The caller dials the number from the video phone and the call is handled by a VRS interpreter. The caller gives the number of the hearing recipient he or she wants to call and the interpreter facilitates the communication between both parties. Deaf or hard of hearing callers can directly call other deaf and hard of hearing recipients without the need of the VRS interpreter.

"Yale New Haven Hospital is focused on the diverse needs of the patients we serve," said Maureen Rosselli, deaf and hard of hearing services coordinator, in YNHH's interpreter services office. "We have been looking forward to making these VRS phones available for our deaf community members. We are extremely proud to be the first hospital in Connecticut to provide this service."

In addition to the VRS phone in the hospital Atrium, YNHH has installed portable VRS phones on carts that can be delivered to the patient care units so that inpatients may use them in the privacy of their hospital rooms. Eventually, YNHH expects to have the VRS phones available in the emergency departments and other areas of the hospital.

In another first, YNHH is also the only Connecticut hospital to engage a certified deaf interpreter (CDI) on staff along with their in-house American Sign Language interpreters. The CDI is a deaf person who works along with a hearing interpreter to change standard ASL signs into a more basic visual gesture format that signers of various nationalities can understand.

"Many people don't realize that American Sign Language is not based on English - it is a visual, gestural language that has its own syntax," explained Rosselli. The certified deaf interpreter is very useful in helping interpret conversations involving deaf individuals from other countries.

"We are absolutely thrilled to offer these distinctive services and look forward to serving our deaf and hard of hearing patients, families and visitors," added Rosselli.

Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), part of Yale New Haven Health, is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). Founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826, today, YNHH has two New Haven-based campuses, and also includes Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has received Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties. www.ynhh.org

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