News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho

Women’s Clinics Need to be Accessible

Joycelyn Banks, from Mt. Washington, gets off the lift of her accessible van. She maneuvers her way into the hospital lobby, onto an elevator and gets off at her floor. Banks enters the doctors office, where she’s greeted by a registered nurse and the two enter the patient exam room.

Banks gets onto an examination table – from her motorized wheelchair. Banks is 43, and has cerebral palsy. She’s arrived for her annual gynecological visit. Being in a wheelchair requires extra space to navigate. She may need assistance transferring onto a table, and requires help keeping her legs stable. 

An annual visit to the doctor is stressful enough for women, but for those with a physical or intellectual disability, there can be added worries. There are only a handful of centers in the country that offer accessible gynecology appointments for women with disabilities. 

Medical offices need scales for weighing women in wheelchairs, accessible exam tables, patient lifts, and padded hydraulic stirrups. This kind of care needs to be extended to radiology and breast imaging departments to coordinate the care for mammograms and related services, so women can get a mammogram while seated.

Things most females take for granted, such as stepping on a scale, can be a major hurdle for those who can’t walk or stand, or who use assistive technology for communication. An annual one-hour appointment can last much longer without accessibility.

The best result comes from designing the medical clinic in consultation with women who have disabilities, and who might not have control over their lower extremities because of some form of disability. Equipment with larger foot rests, a Hoyer lift to raise a person onto a table if an adjustable exam table isn’t available, transfer boards so a patient can slide from a wheelchair to the table.

Having trained staff confident to work with a variety of disabilities can help earn the trust of the patient. For instance, not being able to see the doctors face because of a mask can be intimidating, especially for those with intellectual disabilities. If you view the process of the exam from the point of view of the patient, then everyone will win.

For other information about accessible medical offices contact the Northwest ADA Center. We can provide information on physical access and communication access, for example – how to prepare documentation/billing in large print or alternate format, or when and where to find ASL interpreters for consultations. Most health care exams are stressful. It’s important to make people feel more comfortable in stressful situations. Let’s work together to make medical care accessible for everyone, even in rural areas.



For more information about the ADA contact:

Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator 

For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website:
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7