UPMC Hamot recently completed renovations to increase the availability of american disability act accessible rooms and equipment.
Sunday, an open house is held to showcase what’s been done.
UPMC Hamot had no rooms accessible for people with disabilites before, but over the past 8 years, the hospital has been working with Voices for Independence to make ADA-accessible rooms possible, which they say is long overdue.
Shona Eakin, Voices for Independence Executive Director, says, “It’s a real opportunity for our community for people with disabilities to take one worry off their shoulders if they have to be hospitalized.”
Voices for Independence is a non-profit organization started by a group of individuals with disabilities who wanted to create an alternative to the existing service and advocacy options for people with disabilities.
For the past 8 years, that organization has been working with UPMC Hamot to make it more ADA accessible.
Advocacy Specialist Jessica Molczan says she remembers when she feared coming to the hospital.
Molzcan says, “People with disabilities would rather take care of their issues at home than come to the hospital because we were met with attitudes or just lack of knowledge and the equipment wasn’t adequate for our needs.”
But now, UPMC Hamot has completed renovations to create 28 ADA-compliant rooms throughout each floor of the hospital.
A need they say was tremendous.
Marci Bradley, clinical nursing director at UPMC Hamot, says, “When patients came in, it was very difficult for the nursing staff to be able to help lift, move the patients. We certainly don’t want to injure them by any means. So getting these really helps from both sides making sure the patient is safe and is comfortable, but it also helps our nursing staff so they don’t have any injuries either.”
Bradley says the hospital combined two rooms to nearly double the size of the room.
Ten of the ADA-accessible rooms include overhead lift systems.
The rooms without have access to mobile floor lifts.
Aside from the lifts, the hospital also doubled the size of the bathroom to help make those more accessible, too.
Eakin says, “Before, we couldn’t even find a bathroom that people with disabilities could use. And so now, it’s great to know that where ever you need to go. Where ever hallway you’re in, you can use a restroom. You can get around freely and not have to worry about barriers here. So that’s a good thing.”
Voices for Independence say this was a huge step forward to improve accessibility for those living with disabilities, but they say the work is never done.