Two high-profile Mass. hospitals to improve accessibility

Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital have agreed to spend millions of dollars to address charges that their facilities and staff were unfriendly to the disabled.

The two hospitals, both Harvard-affiliated teaching institutions, have vowed to search their facilities from top to bottom to find any physical barriers or equipment not accessible to disabled patients. Brigham plans to spend $12 million over the next six years, and Mass. General expects the total to mount into unspecified millions. As part of the agreement, the hospitals will involve representatives from the disabled community, who will be directly involved in approving consultants and reviewing blueprints.

Executives expect to invest in items like exam tables, mammography units and X-ray machines which can better accommodate the disabled, as well as buying lifts and scales that can weigh wheelchair-bound patients. Meanwhile, staffers will get training in order to help them understand and address the needs of patients with walking, vision or hearing problems.

To learn more about this agreement:
- read this Boston Globe piece