When my father became ill, my family decided to bring him to the hospital. An interpreter showed up. The doctors decided that my father needed surgery right away. So they took him into surgey. After the surgery, they brought him into the ICU. My father was sleeping and had oxygen mask, tubes and wires all over his body. The interpreter decided to leave. I looked at my dad and realized that he is truly alone. I was thinking when he wakes up; there would be no communication because the interpreter left. So I went up to the nurse and told to her that my father and I are deaf and that we would need an interpreter. The nurse replied that she didn’t know what to do. I explained to her that it’s important that we have one since we communicate in sign language. I gave her a list of interpreting agencies. She understood and agreed that once he wakes up, she’ll get an interpreter. I said goodbye to my father, even if he was sleeping and left. I drove home and went to bed but I wasn’t able to sleep through the night.
I got up early before sunrise and went to the hospital. When I walked into the room, I was shocked to find my father lying in bed with his arms strapped to the bed. My father looked at me painfully and finger spelled “h-e-l-p, h-e-l-p,
h-e-l-p”. I was just dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t an interpreter.
I went to meet with the nurse. I asked her way my father was strapped to bed. She said, “Well, he had his hands all over the place.” I said “Excuse me, but he is deaf. That’s how he communicates, using sign language.” She said, “Well, I wasn’t aware of that.” The way she said it was like that it was okay to strap him down. Furiously, I told her to please go and remove the straps off of his arms so that we could communicate. She said, “Oh, no, no, no. It’s too dangerous. It’s not safe.”
I had to continue to beg her to take them off. The nurse finally agreed. When she removed the straps, she immediately backed away for her safety. Finally, my father was able to communicate, asking why he was here, etc. I had to explain to him that he went through surgery. He finally remembered what happened. I was furious that the hospital did not get an interpreter for my father when he woke up from surgery.
After we communicated, he finally calmed down. I realized how important it is for us to communicate. Imagine if you were hearing and you went into surgery. When you woke up, you find your mouth was taped shut together and you were strapped down. How would you feel? Terrified? Scared? Being able to communicate helps us understand what is going on and reduces uncertainty. What happened to my father should have never happened.
After seeing many stories from other deaf and hard of hearing people in St. Louis metro area, a group of us felt that this has to be addressed. This led to the formation of DEAF Inc. in August 2008. We want to increase awareness and the importance of effective communication for deaf and hard of hearing people, that includes getting an interpreter or use other modes of communication. Communication should be effective and clear.
My name is Shirley Corbett and thank you for your interest in DEAF Inc.
Office Address & Hours
25 East Frisco Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
All times are in Central Standard Time (CST)
Front Desk ...................................... (314) 714-6400
General Fax .................................... (314) 266-7427
Interpreting Request ....................... (314) 968-8868
Interpreting Fax ............................... (314) 968-8872
Contact Online Securely ........................ Click Here