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October 3, 2003

Clinic Caters to the Hearing Impaired

From: WBBM, IL - Oct 3, 2003

CHICAGO (CBS 2) A Chicago Medical Center is making a big difference in the lives of hundreds of patients who are hearing impaired.

CBS 2's disabilities reporter Jim Mullen takes us to Mount Sinai Hospital, where doctors really communicate with deaf patients, to get them the healthcare they need.

Maria is deaf. Communicating with her doctor used to be hard for her. Mount Sinai's "Deaf Access Program" changed that. Now, Maria and her doctors speak the same language, sign language.

"We have an entire deaf therapy team, a psychological therapy team. We have two full-time staff interpreters, as well as two audiologists and a child life specialist, who is deaf herself," explains Dr. Gary Kaufman.

The program helps deaf people of all ages, as well as their family members who can hear. And there are services for deaf parents, who often have special needs.

"How does the deaf mom or dad know their baby is crying? We need to teach them about alarm systems and different services that can be used for them," says Dr. Kaufman.

Jan Grayer says the program makes it easy to care for her son Leroy.

"If he has pains of stomachaches or things, I can communicate with the doctors, they can explain to me the medication and I can understand what's necessary to help my son feel better," says Jan.

Doctor Kaufman says his job is about a lot more than medicine.

"Teaching people, to help with relationships, to help with getting the services they need, to provide support, to say 'you know, you're deaf, but you're the same as other people. You can have a job and do work and things hearing people can do. The only thing you can't do is hear."

Mount Sinai offers services for the hearing impaired at offices on the north, west and south sides.

As many as 500 deaf and hard of hearing people are already being treated by these clinics.

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