The Disability Law Center (DLC) continues to actively work to prevent and address discrimination, abuse, and neglect faced by people with disabilities during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. This unprecedented situation is giving rise to new and different issues that require our attention. DLC’s efforts to address COVID-19-related issues to date include:

  • Working to shape policies to prevent medical rationing that discriminates against people with disabilities;
  • Initiating investigations and seeking information about congregate care facilities in which people with disabilities reside based on reports related to COVID-19 infection and deteriorating conditions for patients and residents.
  • Actively monitoring conditions within and concerns raised by persons served in facilities, including Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Bridgewater State Hospital, and Vibra Hospitals;
  • Collaborating with a lupus advocate, medical school professor, and a patient organization to send a letter to state officials urging them to protect lupus patients who are unable to get their medication (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine) because of prescribing practices related to COVID-19.
  • Advocating for DDS and DMH to create written protocols about staffing practices to guard against staff transmission to group home and shared living residents;
  • Advocating for I/DD group homes to provide residents access to virtual and outdoor, socially distanced visitation with guardians;
  • Challenging unreasonable restrictions on movement by group homes and shared living providers that serve persons with mental health issues;
  • Calling on the Governor and top public health officials to take steps to protect prisoners with disabilities, which include: reducing the prison population by releasing from custody prisoners with disabilities and serious medical conditions that place them at particular risk of serious illness from COVID-19; providing supplies and services necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities; ensuring that medical and mental health services for prisoners with disabilities are not interrupted; ensuring that accessible telecommunications are available to prisoners with disabilities; and, providing DLC with relevant written policies and procedures concerning those protections;
  • Collaborating with other organizations and community partners to devise advocacy strategies to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities and to create and distribute informational resources concerning their rights during the public health crisis;
  • Regularly participating in state-wide and national collaborations aimed at identifying and addressing emerging issues facing people with disabilities as a result of the pandemic;

Instituting a COVID-19 Attorney Point Person at the DLC to ensure all individuals reporting COVID-19 disability-related issues are receiving timely information and services.

If you would like to share your disability-related concerns about COVID-19 or your legal rights during this time, please email us at mail@dlc-ma.org.

Please note – we are using this information to advocate systemically for people with disabilities and submitting your input may not result in a new intake for your concern. However, it will provide valuable information for us to continue advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

For patients with the coronavirus who need communication tools and supports due to speech-related disabilities: COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit with Printable Patient Accommodations Request Form:

https://communicationfirst.org/covid-19/

DLC’s Response to COVID-19 Concerns

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