Melody Riker is deaf.
When she went to the hospital Wednesday morning expecting to have her first child, she took two people with her: her husband and her interpreter.
But when she got to Holy Cross Hospital. Riker was told by nurses that under hospital rules she had to choose between them. Her husband could go into the delivery room or the interpreter could, but not both.
As it turned out, she did not have the baby on Wednesday after all. But she will distressed at the thought of going through natural childbirth without an interpreter to explain what was going on.
She contacted Mark Charmatz, a lawyer for the National Association of the Deaf Legal Defense Fund, and Charmatz contacted the hospital to let it know that under the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which bars federally funded institutions from discriminating against handicapped persons, Riker is entitled to an interpreter.
Charmatz was in U.S. District Court in Baltimore yesterday filing a complaint on those grounds when Stanley J. Nadonley, a lawyer for the hospital, reached him in Judge Joseph Young's chambers to tell him that the hospital had decided to allow Riker an interpreter and has arranged to have two on call.
"I don't know why he had to go to court," said Nadonley. "It was just a matter of getting our signals straightened out at the hospital."