Illinois health facilities required
to allow support persons for person with disabilities
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[September 17, 2020]
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
released new guidance to help families support their loved ones with
developmental disabilities. Persons with disabilities can rely on
reasonable accommodations in Illinois hospitals during their
treatment, which is more important than ever during the COVID-19
Friday’s announcement from IDPH clarifies and
strengthens a previously issued bulletin on non-discrimination in
Hospitals and health facilities should allow individuals with
intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to be accompanied
by a support person, such as a guardian, family member, caregiver,
or paid support worker during their time in the hospital.
“It’s critical that individuals with intellectual and developmental
disabilities can effectively communicate with healthcare workers
when they are in hospital settings,” said IDHS Secretary Grace Hou.
“Although serious social distancing and other COVID-19 related
precautions are still in effect, people with disabilities deserve
access to excellent health care, which often requires a support
“This guidance brings protection for patients with disabilities and
their families during this critical time,” said Allison Stark,
Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities at IDHS. “I
hope many people can now sleep a little bit easier knowing they have
this support in these uncertain times.”
Without effective communication between medical providers and people
with intellectual and developmental disabilities, medical providers
risk substituting misplaced assumptions and potential biases about
the person with a disability for verifiable information and medical
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In addition, effective communication leads to better
transparency in process and protocols, which helps to ensure that
the medical provider and the person with a disability understand
each other and agree.
The IDPH guidance asks hospitals to establish a protocol that allows
at least one support person to be present with any individual with
I/DD in a hospital emergency room and to accompany individuals
admitted to the hospital.
For hospitalized patients, especially those with prolonged
hospitalizations, the individual or legal guardian should be allowed
to designate two different support people.
The support person should always adhere to hospital policies and
wear a designated identification tag provided by the hospital.
Specifically, support persons must wear hospital-provided Personal
Protective Equipment, as directed, and comply with all hospital
infection control procedures.
[Text from file received from